Angelo Merendino, a New York-based photographer, says the photo essay of his wife Jennifer’s battle with breast cancer is an attempt to “humanize the face of cancer.”
The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time. Angelo commented: “These photographs do not define us, but they are us.”
When Angelo Merendino first saw his wife, Jennifer, he knew she was the one. “Not only was Jennifer the most beautiful woman I had ever met, but she was full of life and had a way of making you feel like you were the only person who mattered,” he writes on his website. A year later, they were married in Central Park. “When I saw Jen walking down the path I couldn’t hold back my tears. I had never been so happy in my life and I couldn’t believe that this beautiful, kind, and strong woman loved me the same way that I loved her.”
“I married the girl of my dreams. Life was perfect.”
Five months later, Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I’ll never forget the sound of Jennifer’s voice coming through the phone. I was numb immediately. I’m still numb. As our life became more complicated our focus became simple—survive. The thought that I might be a widower before I was forty felt like someone was kicking me in my gut. Over and over and over.”
“We didn’t expect anyone to have the answers; we just needed our family and friends to be there. Something as simple as sending a text message saying “I love you,” or dropping off dinner after we had spent all day in the hospital.”
Merendino couldn’t find the words to express how much he needed help, so he turned to the only form of communication he knew—his camera.
“Before going to sleep Jen and I used to ask each other what the best and worst part of the day was. Usually the best part was something like, “When you walked by me and ran your fingers through my hair,” or, “When we were at the hospital and you held my hand.” The day after we found out Jen’s liver was failing we came home with Hospice Care and spent the evening with family and friends. That night, as we lay next to each other for possibly the last time, I asked Jen what she loved the most about that day. Jen thought for a minute then turned and, looking deeper into my eyes than ever before, Jen said, “I Loved it all.”
And a Goodbye to life!