The Battle We Didn't Choose

Posted on 15 October 2012

The Battle We Didn't Choose Photo Exhibit 

  Day Lecture: Wed, Oct 17 from 2-4 PM  |  Opening Night: Wed, Oct 17 from 6pm-9pm

  ADC, Art Design Consultants  |  310 Culvert St. 5th Fl  | Cincinnati, OH 45202

The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.” A month later Jen got a job in Manhattan and left Cleveland. I would go to the city – to see my brother, but really wanting to see Jen. At every visit my heart would scream at my brain, “tell her!!” but I couldn’t work up the courage to tell Jen that I couldn’t live without her. My heart finally prevailed and, like a schoolboy, I told Jen “I have a crush on you.” To the relief of my pounding heart, Jen’s beautiful eyes lit up and she said “Me too!”

Six months later I packed up my belongings and flew to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. That night, at our favorite Italian restaurant, I got down on my knee and asked Jen to marry me. Less than a year later we were married in Central Park, surrounded by our family and friends. Later that night, we danced our first dance as husband and wife, serenaded by my dad and his accordion – ♫ “I’m in the mood for love…”♫ Five months later Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember the exact moment…Jen’s voice and the numb feeling that enveloped me. That feeling has never left. I’ll also never forget how we looked into each other’s eyes and held each other’s hands. “We are together, we’ll be ok.”

With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, “You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.” We loved each other with every bit of our souls. Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time. Throughout our battle we were fortunate to have a strong support group but we still struggled to get people to understand our day-to-day life and the difficulties we faced. Jen was in chronic pain from the side effects of nearly 4 years of treatment and medications. At 39 Jen began to use a walker and was exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump and bruise. Hospital stays of 10-plus days were not uncommon. Frequent doctor visits led to battles with insurance companies. Fear, anxiety and worries were constant.

Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and at certain points we felt our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we had to live with everyday? My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They detail the treatments forced into and onto her body. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our Love.  These photographs do not define us, but they are us.

Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern. “Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino -written by Angelo Merendino

THE GOAL

The money raised through this campaign will allow me to share these photos with the world and produce a book that will accompany a traveling exhibition. The photographs, centering around Jennifer and her battle with breast cancer, tell a story of love, grace and courage in the face of a horrible disease. My goal is to bring awareness to the realities of a daily life with cancer and the importance of being there for someone who is fighting for his or her life. Since I will be publishing this book (hard copy and ebook) on my own it will be my responsibility to oversee all aspects of its production. In order to achieve the level of quality I desire I will assemble a team consisting of a photo editor, a designer, a PR/Marketing consultant and myself. Together we will work to produce a book and exhibition that will not only inform but also inspire. My photographs are not just about cancer; they are about love and life, and never giving up. They are about embracing every second.  

RSVP for the Day Lecture HERE! RSVP for Opening Night HERE!

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1 comment

  • Kimberly Mitchell: December 09, 2016

    Angelo – Such a moving display of love. Jen’s journey will stay with me as I move through my life and the love that her husband has for her. I’m certain that continuing with the exhibit is both healing and painful for you.

    Litza – You have a wonderful gallery. I am proud to have had the opportunity to meet you. You are an inspiration to other women who want to follow their passion.

    Sincerely to both of you,
    Kim Mitchell
    Loving with Purpose

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Meet Litsa

Litsa Spanos – loving wife and mother of three – is an established art consultant, award-winning gallery owner, custom framer and educator. In this blog, Litsa shares with you her love for beautiful things. She will give you an exclusive look into the world of fine art and the artists who create it. She will also let you in on inspirational design ideas that are sure to give your home or office energy, warmth and reflect your own personal style.

 

 

 

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