Renee’s Chemo Chronicles

I want to introduce you to Renee. I first met her last spring when she was outside playing with her adorable little boy, Ian. She and her husband had recently moved in on our cul-de-sac. I was instantly smitten with Ian and his mommy. Renee is incredibly warm, personable, and charming. When I discovered that she was a scrapbooker and artist, I was even more interested in forming a friendship with her. She shared her creative website with me, Leopards and Lilies, and that led me to her personal website, Team S. It was there that I discovered that she was a breast cancer survivor. I was impressed by her spirit, her faith, her resilience, and her raw honesty. I found myself reading her blog, going further and further back into older entries, and wanted to get to know her even more. Ian was just a toddler when she beat it the first time.

As the summer progressed last year, we met in the cul-de-sac for chit-chat while our children played (which continues to this day). One evening last fall, she came outside all dressed up and made up, so I begged to take a few quick snapshots of her. Isn’t she so pretty? And she has the cutest personality ever, just so bubbly!

Because I was doing P365 last year, my camera was with me all the time, so I’ve snapped several of photos of Ian. He is a doll!

It was in March this year that she got bad news. During a routine scan, spots were found on her lungs. After further testing, it was determined that she had cancer in her lungs and bones; because she had breast cancer three years ago, this cancer is classified as stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Her large network of friends, family, and the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls (her breast cancer support group from her first battle) rallied around her creating a care calendar of meals, errands, child care, and house cleaning. I offered to take photos too.

I spent a Sunday afternoon with my family scouting locations, then showed a variety of places to Renee before setting out. She wanted something urban, something soft, and something with graffiti. I’ve been moved by her faith, so I wanted to incorporate a church into our shoot somehow too. Here is the result of our session from a few weeks ago. I think Renee is beautiful, vibrant, strong, and she rocks the bald head!

Austin lifestyle portrait photographer chemo chemotherapy cancer breast survivor

Austin lifestyle portrait photographer chemo chemotherapy cancer breast survivor

Austin lifestyle portrait photographer chemo chemotherapy cancer breast survivor

We have one more idea to capture but it will take some serious planning to pull off. I hope we are able to accomplish it because it will be very powerful. Oh and I have to give Renee props… she was published in our neighborhood newsletter for being honored as “Mom of the Month” by the national parenting site, You go, girl! She is a fighter… spunky, sassy, and sweet! The beautiful necklaces seen in both sets of photos were designed and made by her and she sells them on her Etsy site. She also creates cards, teacher gifts, and art canvases. AND in the middle of all of this, she has created a brand new project called Project Sending Love where she encourages you to send a simple postcard with an I Love You or Thank You sentiment.

Renee has now completed two rounds of chemo; the first round shrunk the biggest tumor in her lungs so hopes were very high for round two. After completing round two, she had aPET scan so she could also get a look at both the bone and lung tumors and the news wasn’t as good as she’d hoped. There is still a spot in the bones of her left shoulder, one tumor is larger in the lungs, and there is a new spot in the lungs too. So she will be undergoing a different chemo. Please keep her in your prayers and positive thoughts. She is only 33 years old, Ian is just 4, and her husband, Eric, dotes on them both. If you want to follow her journey, purchase a necklace, send a love postcard, or admire her crafts, here is a comprehensive list of her sites:

Team S

Leopards and Lilies Etsy site

Leopards and Lilies website

Leopards and Lilies on Facebook

Project Sending Love

Thank you for taking the time to get to know this incredible friend and neighbor of mine. Please leave Renee a comment here too! And Renee, thank you for allowing me to capture this challenging part of your journey. You are beautiful.

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