I'm going to guess I'm not the only one who sits around thinking "I want to volunteer more!" and then never gets around to it because there's an album that needs designing, pictures that need editing, or whatever. Luckily, sometimes opportunities to give just fall right into your lap.
I got an email on Christmas from a girl named Victoria asking if I could take some pictures for a book she was writing with help from The Dream Factory, which is a non-profit that helps chronically and terminally sick kids achieve their dreams. Victoria is a sparkly person. I knew it as soon as I met her, she's got this breathless enthusiasm that is totally contagious. A Lyme Disease carrying tick tried to tone down her sparkle, but I'm pretty sure it just made her shine even brighter. For the past five years, she's dealt with the devastating effects of chronic Lyme Disease including seizures, daily I.V. antibiotics, and even a coma. She's been chronicling her journey, as well as progress on the book on her blog and she asked for my help with creating a multimedia package to send to authors to write her foreword.
When I arrived at Victoria's dorm, she started getting out the supplies for her daily I.V. antibiotics... boxes and boxes of stuff more fitting of a pharmacy than a dorm room. We put on our masks and she got to work, accessing a port by her clavicle. I asked if it hurt, and she said the area was numb from being punctured daily. The treatment takes an hour, and she did it every single day for about one full year. I'm happy to report that she is off the I.V. now! Yay Victoria!!!
Victoria wants to use her newfound expertise to go into the medical field and help others.
Now we wait.
Fortunately, a teen and a cellphone make the time go by quickly. 🙂
Once it's over, she has to clear the line and then bandage the area.
We had planned to do a couple of different shoots, Victoria likes to jog and take walks with her friends, however one unfortunate symptom of Lyme Disease is that it causes pain receptors to misfire, basically telling your brain that something is hurting you when nothing really is. Because of this, Victoria was in a wheelchair for a couple of months but worked with a walker to maintain her strength. I'm happy to say Victoria is now not only out of the wheelchair, but is back to running! Woo hoo!!
Victoria wanted the potential foreword-writers to get to know her a little bit, beyond all the medical stuff. We gathered a few of her friends to play some games at a coffeehouse, and got some fun shots of Victoria in her natural state (aka laughing and having fun!) Many thanks to Spot Coffee for reserving a space for us on a very busy Saturday afternoon!
Victoria, I'm so glad that you contacted me to help you with this project... I cannot wait to see the finished book! Your bravery in the face of such adversity is completely admirable and it was such a pleasure to spend the day with you and your friends!