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  • Writer's pictureJessie Hardy

bricks + beads

Did we let -10 degree weather hold us back from doing this photo session? Nah. Why? Because Allison is a badass. I'm gonna say that again for everyone in the back..Allison is a BAD ASS (AndI'm not even talking about her doing a photo shoot in the frigid temps of February in Eastern MT). Allison is a badass BECAUSE she beat cancer, kicked its ass actually, and she is only 16.

I met this girl when I had just moved to Fairview, MT (right after graduating college from The U of M in Missoula). I moved to Eastern Montana to teach 6th grade and coach volleyball. During the fall, she was diagnosed with stage 4 nephroblastoma, a kidney cancer, also called "Wilms' tumor". She was 8 years old. We wore orange for Allison during our volleyball games to show her our support and raise awareness. I even have a photo (look below), this was about 7 years ago!

I felt sick for what her and her family were going through, but didn't really "get" it. How could I? I was only 23 years old and didn't have any kids. It was later, after having a child of my own, did I start to understand the gravity of the situation. I can obviously never understand what they went through during this time, but I could at least have a heart for the situation now that I knew the unconditional love one can only have for a child.

Fast-forward 7 years and Allison in CANCER FREE (started remission January 2014). They recently had their annual appointment in Denver and the results came back spectacularly. This photo shoot was not only to celebrate her journey to beat cancer, but to celebrate the young woman Allison has become. When we decided to do photos and I thought about her, I thought of the 8 year-year-old girl who was losing her hair and STILL had a smile on her face. Now, while doing this photo shoot, I realized how grown up she is and how lovely she has become. (and the hair, OMG HER HAIR, so thick and shiny). Yes, it was SO COLD, but so worth it. Every time she had chemotherapy treatments, the hospital staff would give her beads. It seems like such a small detail- beads, but I could tell that the value of these beads was deeper than I would ever know.

Getting to hang with this girl and her mama made my Friday afternoon one to remember. But, we didn't want this shoot to be "all about cancer", so we made sure to jump in the car, hightail it around town, and shoot wherever we saw inspiration. Allison, there are so many people who look up to you and admire the strength and bravery you have had since you were just a little girl. I know you will do big things.

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