By Patrick Cox

We’ve all heard the “C” word. Yeah, I said it. CANCER.

Cancer. Say it again with me. . . Cancer. See what I’m talking about? You probably can’t even say it without some memory of it affecting you or someone you love. Personally, I’m going to open up right here, because that’s necessary. We have to band together and be honest about how it is wreaking havoc on the lives of those who have to battle it daily.

It has ripped through all sides of my family, and many sides of my heart. Liver cancer. Colon cancer. Breast cancer. The list goes on and on, just as the disease itself. When will it end? It will end now, and we all need to band together to make this happen. Are you with me?

In my line of work as a photographer, I see people in different stages of life. I see all the seasons. Birth, marriage, children, milestones, and (unfortunately) death. Many of the latter, more difficult life moments to witness and capture include coworkers, friends and family members battling cancer. To see it and view it through a lens doesn’t separate the emotional toll it takes. Through my lens I can see the emotional expressions in the caretakers and ones soon to be left behind. Through the lens I can see the pain of the victims of this tragic disease. Through the lens, I capture many individuals’ last moments with those they love. The last time they have a family shoot, the last time they attend an event, the last time they are photographed holding their children. The last time they are photographed holding those near and dear to them.

I have seen it first-hand.

In my experience, the strongest warriors are the children who are battling the disease. I have had the privilege to have worked with many, both fortunately for me and unfortunately for them. Some of these children have been or are terminal, and some are able to battle through. They need us on their side. Are you with me?

Cancer runs, Cancer fundraising events, donating works in visual collateral for nonprofits… I’ve done these things in a small attempt to help those who have impacted my life.

For the past 15 years, my team and I have worked and served, and we are honored each time. We are able to meet so many wonderful people, and make a small difference in the lives of a few. Are you with us?

When you help, put yourself out there. As many in the volunteer world say, “Lean into the discomfort.” It is true. At times I was ill-prepared for what happened. At times, I’ve fought simply to hide my tears behind the camera and lens. Would I trade a moment of this? No. Are you with me?

So when I am asked to help, I make a habit of saying yes. I come from a place of yes. Do you?

I ask you to do the same. Are you with me?

Donate: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/MakingStridesAgainstBreastCancer/MSABCCY16SA?px=43976268&pg=personal&fr_id=78465

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