In Category: ‘Meera’

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April 26, 2016 Meera Update

Throughout 2012, I followed then two year old Meera through her journey with cancer. You can view the year we documented in review HERE.

It’s been a few years, and I’m constantly asked how Meera is doing. It wasn’t just me who fell in love with her – it was so many people who followed along her incredible journey of ups and downs through an aggressive form of cancer in her face. So, it was time to catch up with Meera and her family and see how she’s doing now!

You may remember, Meera had to have a portion of her face removed due to the cancer. This has not slowed this beauty down – and I find her eyes look all the bigger and more beautiful! Last I saw Meera, her hair was just starting to grow back from chemo – now she has incredible thick hair anyone would envy! She is 6 years old now and in grade one. She has lots of friends and loves school. She still sometimes gets questions and looks – but the family addresses them. Happy to answer questions – but not willing to put up with rudeness. When Meera is in her teens they will explore reconsructive surgery. Meera had her routine MRI – every 4 months – and was getting the results today. Roy and Laure were so relieved when they came back clear! YAY! Speaking of Roy and Laura – they’re doing great too. They’ve gotten fit and are working, and seem more in love than ever! And Ameena – who was just a baby when I met her – is four years old and is in kindergarten now! Ans speaking of babies, there is a new sister – two year old Kembree. All three girls are so sweet and I loved catching up (although far too briefly) with this family I love!

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Celebrating life and love,

Krista

October 16, 2013 Meera Update

I have had so many emails and questions about Meera and how she is doing. I am blown away by the support and love shown to her and her family. Thank you!

Just before Meera’s last chemo treatment of this round, they noticed a small lump in her mouth above a tooth (her mouth area is where the cancer has been). They had her come in for surgery immediately and removed the lump. I joined the family on the day of her surgery. And then came the waiting. They had expected the prognosis to take about a week – but yesterday they received the news early. It wasn’t cancerous! Hurray!!!

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Love Sick Kids and all the things they do to make these tough journeys easier… like iPad’s for the kids while waiting for the meds to kick in before surgery!

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And out of surgery and recovering with mom, dad and new baby sister Kembree. It was sweet – Meera’s other little sister Ameena wasn’t there (a bit much for a toddler!) and Meera said “I want both sisters.” She is such a good big sister.

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Don’t know if you can see Laura’s tattoo – it says “Hair grows back, Kids don’t”. icon smile Meera Update

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Celebrating life and love,

Krista

February 20, 2013 Meera Update

So many people have been writing and asking about Miss Meera and how she is doing. Even though my monthly photo visits for 2012 may be officially over, I am still keeping in touch with the fam and along for the journey! Yesterday, I popped in to Sick Kids to see Meera as she had an orthodontic appointment. She looked GREAT – as you will see below.

A few updates… Meera was thrilled to get some new teeth (as you may remember – her MAJOR surgery in November she had to have her top lip, gum and teeth removed). The first problem was she wouldn’t let her parents take out her teeth (like dentures) at night because she really believed her teeth had grown back. And then she wouldn’t let them put them in because she thought only a dentist could do it! Completely unforeseen challenges – life with a three year old!

Meera has started her chemo – she was so fortunate that they are allowed to give one of the chemos at home! I believe this is a first – so cool! Her chemo does not seem to be effecting her as hard as the last time she did chemo a year ago. So far she still has her hair, and she isn’t as sick. We will see how she does over the next few moths – chemo will finish this summer.

Meera is stil herself – laughing and running around and being a three year old! She has had some children ask questions – and sometimes even make not nice comments about her face. Fortunately Meera’s parents are good advocates for her and happy to share about her journey and why she looks the way she does. When anyone – young or old – hears that she had to give up part of her face to fight for her life.. it stirs something inside you. This is not just any three year old you’re looking at – this is a warrior princess fighting for her life.

Meera had her appointment – and then we just visited for a while in Sick KIds.

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Meera was killing herself laughing at a My Little Pony video on her mom’s phone. So cute!

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Roy, Meera and I had fun colouring Barbies together. I love colouring as much as my kids do!

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Can’t forget little Miss Ameena!

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I love this photo of Meera! Will leave you with this…

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Celebrating life and love,

Krista

December 18, 2012 Meera – Year in Review

This year has been the most unpredictable year of my life – with so many highs and lows, and new people and endeavours. One of the highlights of my year has been little Miss Meera who has snuck into my heart.

I met Meera a year ago this December when photographing at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto. I instantly fell for her – and after connecting with her mom asked if they’d allow me to follow them for a year documenting what life looks like for a child going through cancer. Not pretty portraits – but monthly visits documenting life. Well, it’s been a year – and I’ve already apologized to Roy and Laura – but they’re stuck with me. There’s no way I can say “so long!” after all we’ve been through together this year. Not sure how frequent or what our visits will look like in the future, but these guys are more like family now and family is for keeps. icon smile Meera   Year in Review

As I looked back over the photos of this past year, several things stuck out to me….

The roller coaster of emotions – not knowing what was around each bend. Never being able to predict the outcome of the next treatment, surgery or scan. The tears of joy and pain. Having no control over this war against Meera’s body – but fighting with everything available.

The strength though is what comes through for me over and over and over. Laura’s snuggles and comforting hugs for her girls. Roy’s quiet constant presence that is comforting to his three girls. And Ameena – who has only known life in and out of hospitals – and her ability to roll with it. To laugh, smile and be content whether at home or in a waiting room. This family seems to have bonded through this all. Not to mention the many visits from grandparents, uncles, and many, many friends and other family.

The bond between patients and their families. I don’t know what it is like to have a child who is battling for her life. But many who do have come alongside Roy and Laura and walked alongside them. Offering them love, advice, support and a listening ear. It is beautiful to see the support of virtual strangers.

And I have been overwhelmed by the support of my friends, family and church. Everywhere I go people ask me about Meera. Today, again, I was able to play Santa and deliver gifts from friends, clients, a wedding planner, and neighbours. Meera asked me a few times “Are you Santa?” and I had to say “no” and remind her how many people love her and want to shower her with tokens of their love and support. I’m just the messenger – and so honoured to do so!

But enough of me blabbering on – here’s a look back at my year with Miss Meera….

December 2011 – I met two year old Meera at Ronald McDonald House in Toronto during her chemo treatment

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January 2012 – This was my first visit specifically with Meera – she was at the hospital in Newmarket and I had no idea what to expect. It was tough to see someone so little go through such distress, but after some cuddles from mom or dad, she was back to playing with her princess dolls and bounced back to being an imaginative kid again.

jan Meera   Year in Review

February 2012 – I visited Meera in her home, she was tuckered out and fell asleep on the couch with her sister. So sweet. This same night her parents shaved each other’s heads to show Meera they were behind her as she went through chemo and lost her hair. It was such a beautiful act of love.

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March 2012 – I got to witness the start of a beautiful friendship between Rose the clown (a child life specialist at Sick Kids) and Meera. Rose has been such a great support for Meera through some tough days!

march Meera   Year in Review

April 2012 – I went to a chemo treatment with Meera – always the princess!

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May 2012 – I enjoyed time at Meera’s home with her and the family. Blowing bubbles, watering the garden, swinging and just being a kid.

may Meera   Year in Review

June 2012 – It was June 4. I won’t forget that date as I was there for Meera’s “last” chemo treatment.

june Meera   Year in Review

July 2012 – Meera had a “Chemo’s done” Party with friends and family – and even Cinderella came for a visit! It was special to see Meera with her good friend Rebekah who I had also connected with this past year. Rebekah had a successful heart transplant in June. Too amazing strong young women.

july Meera   Year in Review

August 2012 – It was so good to spend time with them just being a family this month. Chemo was done – and as they vacationed in Niagara, they went to the Butterfly Conservatory where we celebrated new life.

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September 2012 – This was a tough one. After celebrating the last couple months – we were back at Sick Kids as they found a tumour. Cancer had relapsed.

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I went again in September when Meera had her tumour removed. What a trooper this munchkin is.

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October 2012 – Meera had to have yet another surgery. I went in the day after her surgery expecting to find her sad and miserable. But kids are resilient. Instead I found a playful, happy girl.

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Later in October we celebrated Meera’s third birthday!

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November 2012 – Another surgery. This time major. A 15 hour surgery to remove part of Meera’s nose, her upper lip, 6 teeth, part of her fibula to rebuild her face… this would change how Meera looked. But nothing could change this warrior’s spirit and spunk.

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December 2012 – Brings me to today. Last week Meera had her fourth surgery in as many months. SHe had to have more removed (the piece that forms the nostrils). This was tough for her as she doesn’t want more surgeries – unless it’s to give her teeth back. I hadn’t seen Meera since November – and when I had seen her then she was still bandaged. I didn’t know what to expect – but I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful girl who grabbed my hand and hauled me from toy to toy and wanted to play. If anything her eyes now look huge – and they shine so bright. She is so gorgeous, I loved visiting with her and the family today in their home.

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Meera and her family just came back form their Children’s Wish trip to Disney!

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Ameena is getting so big and is now walking!

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Meera loved showing me her gingerbread house.

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This is Meera trying to convince me she’s allowed to paint in her bed. ha ha.

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Painting at the table. Not her bed. icon smile Meera   Year in Review

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As mentioned – I was able to play Santa and deliver gifts today from so many generous people. Some Meera opened today (since she saw us bring them) – and some will be saved for later! The notes of encouragement and support are just as special as the gifts!

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Beautiful Meera… love you!

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The family has some appointments on Friday – will find out after that about the next steps in chemo and such. Please keep Meera and her family in your prayers!

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

November 8, 2012 Meera: November

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, part one of September and part two, October part one, part two and her story in her mom’s words.)

Last month, I shared how Meera had to have a painful, life saving, face altering surgery. Surgery day was yesterday. I couldn’t make it up yesterday, but was glad it worked out to see the family at Sick Kids today.

I’ll be honest – as Laura so candidly is…. it’s tough on the family. As they wrestle with a daughter that doesn’t look now like the daughter they’ve known for the last 3years. Yes – it will potentially save her life, can be reconstructed (after chemo) and is only on the surface… but let’s be honest, it’s tough.

When I walked in the room I had prepared myself for a shock – but I didn’t really face one. Actually – what surprised me most was how little and fragile she looked. Sometimes I forget how little and young Miss Meera is as she is forced to be wise beyond her years. Meera is still on a high dose of morphine so was sleeping the majority of the time – and when she wasn’t, she was groggy.

Meera’s family has asked to not post photos of her face yet as they are still adjusting to the changes. I was able to capture something more beautiful than any face though. True love. Courage. Compassion. Things no surgeon can take away. No disease can rob.

This family’s love and strength is always an inspiration to me and to many.

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Laura’s dad and mom were both there which was great!

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Bravery beads are beads that are given individually each time a “procedure” or something happens at the hospital. Being admitted. Surgery. Bloodwork. Scans. etc. Meera’s family counted over 600 beads. That’s almost a bead a day since this nightmare began.

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ANd Miss Ameena also needs love and attention – so nice Laura’s mom was able to be there to offer a much needed hand! Poor Laura has one girl who’s had major surgery crying for cuddles from mom, and one girl who’s crying to be nursed and loved by mom.

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Meera – I love you. Your personality can’t be contained by any face. You have something far more beautiful than can be defined by a nose or mouth.

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From here… Meera will likely have some reconstructive surgery after her chemo – or there was talk she might have to wait a few years. Time will tell!

I must add a personal note at the end. I have been blown away by the incredible support of friends, family and even perfect strangers to this family. Every day on Facebook or Twitter I see someone else donating a portion of sales, or an auction or other creative ways to do something special for them. I’ll just highlight one special group.

A recent bride I photographed, had a friend over and was showing to him her photos on my website… which lead to her telling him about Meera. Like everyone – he was moved and wanted to do something. He is a musical theatre student at Sheridan College – and got the guys in his college program to donate their Mo’vember funds to Meera’s family. They call themselves “The Knights of Princess Meera” (look them up on Facebook!). Then the female students chimed in they wanted to participate too! And some of them are going makeup free and there was even talks of drawing on moustaches… to raise support of Meera. A group of college students, who have never met this young girl are sharing her story through social media and sending her love daily. Overnight the group seemed to go from zero to almost 400. Incredible.

If you are interested in donating to support Meera and her family you can do so HERE.

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

October 31, 2012 Meera: October 31

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, part one of September and part two, October part one and her story in her mom’s words.)

Today is Meera’s third birthday. This munchkin has lived a lifetime in those three short years. More doctor’s appointments, surgeries, scans and tests than I’ve had in 36 years.

An update on Meera’s health. It has been a lot of ups and downs emotionally for the family since her cancer relapsed this Fall. After two surgeries – the family had decided on the option of a treatment study – which meant that if it didn’t work, she could still do the traditional chemo afterwards. This is no longer an option as the doctors have decided to take a more aggressive stance to save this princess and on November 7 she will be having surgery to remove everywhere that was ever effected by her cancer. This means half her nose, 90% of her top lip, 6 teeth and more will be removed. She will also have a cast on her leg as a piece of her fibula will be used to reconstruct some of her face. The surgery will take approx. 15 hours and she’ll be in the hospital for at least 10 days afterwards. After her chemo is done she will be able to have her reconstructive surgery.

There was a bright light for the family as the Children’s Wish foundation was awesome to quickly arrange a trip to Disney for them leaving today. On her birthday.

And then the roller coaster swooped downwards again.

About an hour ago (just hours before they were to leave) the hospital called about a questionable area on her scan that showed up. So now tomorrow they go back to the hospital for a biopsy instead of to Disney.

It has been a really tough couple of weeks for the family emotionally and financially. But through it all they have pulled closer together as a family, and continue to laugh and love. They are incredible. I would ask you to leave them an encouraging note in the comments here or if you feel compelled you can donate to them here.

But now, we celebrate Meera’s life.

I’ll let Laura’s words to her daughter Meera say it all….

“I cannot believe it. Meera. Our precious sweetheart. Here you are, a very beautiful and soo very grown up three year old. You know so much more then I and most people at 3. You can teach things like strengh and courage to even the most muscular daredevils. Your personality is captivating. Your infectious giggles can make anyones frown disappear. And your smile is absolutely delightful, anyone can see its one that comes from the heart. I am honored and priviledged to hear you call me mama. I love you more then I ever even thought was possible, you mean more then the world to me.”

Here are some photos from Meera’s third birthday party at an indoor playground.

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Laura is very sentimental – and had her friend from Wee Piggies and Paws come and take thumbprints of her girls to make one of these great necklaces you see below. I love it!

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And what is a party without a cake – and what a cake! My good friend Jocelyn of Sugarbelle Cakes gave Meera a special gift for her birthday. And it tasted so good!

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This last picture I found got me choked up. I know what my girls wish for is usually the frivolous and ridiculous. I can only imagine what this little one fighting for her life is wishing. I know my wish for her is that there are many, many, many more candles to blow out for years and years to come. And laughter and love to flood her days.

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Happy Birthday Meera. I love you!

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

October 15, 2012 Meera: October

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, part one of September and part two and her story in her mom’s words.)

Last week, Meera found out she had to go back in for more surgery. This time a little more invasive. A little further in to remove more. The thought of more surgery was so hard for the family. I popped up briefly the day after the surgery to see how Meera was doing. Instead of finding a sad little girl, I found her happily munching on treats, watching TV with her feet crossed. She was chatty and happy – and looked great!

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It has been so neat to see so many people sending love and being so generous to Miss Meera. SOmeone who I don’t know, but has been following her story made her this beautiful hat. Meera loved it!

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Meera always says she’s a princess – this amazing gift was from a family friend. What a treasure for a little princess!

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Real love, is a parent sleeping on what can loosely be called a bed all night with their daughter. Roy had spent the night in Meera’s room and had let Laura go get a full night sleep at the Ronald McDonald House. SO sweet.

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Laura had brought in Meera’s bravery beads – every time they have a procedure or something done at Sick Kids tehy get a bead. This necklace of beads is just since Meera relapsed a couple weeks ago.

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I have some competition.

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WHen I am at Sick Kids, I am always amazed by the strength of these kids. They have gone through so much – but they are still kids. They want to play playdough, make crafts, watch TV and be silly. They don’t sit around and make a big deal about al they’ve been through or complain. They just want to be kids and play.

Meera’s friend Ruby, who is 3, came by for a visit before she left Sick Kids. Ruby had been in a horrible car accident the week before and had lost her Grandma and another family member is still in hospital. Ruby had spent a week in the hospital recovering and was heading home. But at that moment – all she really wanted to do was a craft, play with her friend Meera and act like a three year old. Kids don’t see the IV’s and tubes and scars. They see a potential play mate.

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Meanwhile, across the hall Roy and Laura were meeting with a doctor to discuss options. It is so incredibly hard for parents to see their child ill – but then to be asked to make a decision on which treatment to use is incredibly difficult. Roy and Laura have been researching and studying up on which of two options to use for Meera. They have decided to go ahead with a trial study and her chemo will begin in 4 weeks when everything has had a chance to heal after her surgeries.

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And Ameena tried making a break for it as I was leaving. SO cute.

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She’s growing up so soon and will be walking soon!

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Meera turns three on Halloween – I’m sure we’ll have some cute photos around that time. Stay tuned!

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, part one of September and her story in her mom’s words.)

The day of Meera’s surgery came and I had to be there. Her tumour – which is between her nose and top lip – was going to be removed. Tension was high, but as always Meera and her little sister Ameena act simply as kids. Meera happily did puzzles and Ameena practiced her walking around the toy tables while they waited for Meera’s surgery.

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And then it was surgery time. Two hours of waiting. Wondering. Waiting. The moment Meera gets taken form her parent’s arms and wheeled away – so tough.

After the wait, Miss Meera came back and the cuddles began. icon smile Meera: September (part 2)

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Such good team work with mom and dad between caring for the two girls.

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There is a sweet video Laura posted the day after Meera’s surgery. Laura says to Meera, “You’re a superhero.” And in Meera’s little voice she says “I’m not a superhero. I’m a princess.” Again Laura tries to say she’s a superhero. And Meera denies – but this time adds “Mom is the superhero.”

Honestly – Roy and Laura – and the parents at Sick Kids are superheroes. They fight for their children’s lives and protect them from harm. It is so beautiful.

IMG 8839 Meera: September (part 2)

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I took Ameena outside for a little bit and when I came back the swelling and bruising had already started on little Meera.

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My friend Christa made this banner for Meera – totally brightened her room!

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A long day and everyone was tuckered out.

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I have been asked by so many people what next? To be honest – it’s unsure. Roy and Laura have some very, very hard decisions ahead of them as they need to choose between two options of treatment for Meera. They are busy researching them and trying to come to an answer. Please pray for wisdom for them.

The financial cost is also very high for the family as they travel back and forth to hospitals and appointments, having to pay for gas and food… and not able to work. Ameena turned one the week they found the tumour – meaning Laura is no longer on maternity leave. I am so thankful we live in a country where medical care is free… but there are still so many costs. There are some awesome ways to support the family online HERE and HERE.

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

September 25, 2012 Meera: September (part 1)

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August and her story in her mom’s words.)

September is childhood cancer awareness month. I am aware and I don’t like it.

You might remember in June I was there as Meera had her last Chemo treatment. In July we celebrated with a “Chemo’s done” party! In August the family enjoyed time as a family – outside the hospital doing regular family outings and relaxing.

Then came September. Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Last week Meera’s mom msged me to say she feared the tumour might be back. She just happened to feel something one day (Meera’s tumor was between her nose and top lip). A couple days later Meera had an MRI and our fears were confirmed. Meera’s tumor was back. Words I hoped to never associate with Meera again were being thrown around – chemo, hospital, etc.

Because Meera had the maximum radiation the first time around last year, it is not an option. Roy and Laura were faced with a few options and tough choices. I joined them on Friday as they took Meera in to have a CAT scan to make sure it had not spread to her lungs. Word came back yesterday that her lungs are clear. Hallellujah!

But… tomorrow I head back into Sick Kids to be with them as Meera is having surgery to remove the tumor and also part of her bone. Chemo will be beginning shortly.

It was tough being back at Sick Kids with them this time knowing what lays ahead. As always, I was so impressed with the strength of Roy and Laura. They work so well together – as Laura is staying with Meera getting her ready for the scan, Roy was down talking to a different doctor. And Ameena – who celebrated her first birthday last week – was happily playing as always.

Please keep this family in your prayers. These girls are about the same age difference as mine, and I can only imagine if it was one of mine. I am so thankful for Sick KIds and our amazing medical facilities in Canada. I just wish we didn’t have the need for them.

When I got there, Meera was just going in to get her port/central line accessed. She was scheduled to get it out just days before – but because of Laura finding the tumor, she did not have to go through getting it out and then put back in.

IMG 0376 Meera: September (part 1)

I love this face.

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Meera’s bravery beads for the day!

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Then we had some time to play while we waited for her turn.

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And then the nurse arrived to talk with Laura and get Meera ready.

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Poor MEera. She did not want to do this all again.

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I think Ameena was ready to defend Meera – I’d be afraid of her. icon smile Meera: September (part 1)

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Mommy cuddles can soothe a sad little girl like nothing else. The little arm around Laura’s neck just about made me lose it.

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Again, please keep Meera in your prayers tomorrow as she heads into surgery at 1pm. We are believing for a MEERAcle.

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

September 5, 2012 Meera: August

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July and her story in her mom’s words.)

When I think of butterflies, I think of new life! So the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory was such a fitting place for me to meet up with Meera’s family as they vacationed in Niagara. Having completed her chemo – it was time to start their new life! The past year has taken this family through so much… time to move on and to celebrate life!

I first want to remind you of Meera just a few short months ago in the midst of chemo….

IMG 0508 Meera: August

And now, her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows are growing back, she’s eating, running outside and enjoying life outside the hospital walls!

IMG 7098 Meera: August

We met at the Butterfly Conservatory – I’m shocked how many photos I took of butterflies! Each one was so beautiful and unique… my camera was begging to snap them! Laura dressed the girls in bright colours as she had read that was good to get the butterflies to interact with you. And the girls looked so cute!

 

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Love how they landed right by Laura’s tattoos for both girls names!

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SO good to see them out and happy as a family and enjoying life!

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Then it was time to go outside and play!

I wonder what I did here to get this look.

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Laura had stayed inside to buy something – what a welcome when she returned! Love these moments when everyone around disappears and mom and daughter only have eyes for each other!

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Laura bought Meera the cutest gift – big butterfly wings she could wear!

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Okay – let’s all pause and look at Roy and Laura’s faces – have you ever seen more adoring looks? These girls are loved!

IMG 7294 1 Meera: August

And it was time to say good bye to the butterfly for another month…..

IMG 7413 Meera: August

Celebrating life and love,

Krista

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