In Category: ‘Meera’

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August 14, 2012 Meera: July

(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 and her story in her mom’s words.)

July 28.

What a special day. It was the day of Meera’s “Chemo’s done” party. If ever there was a reason to celebrate, it was that this tiny warrior princess had finished her aggressive chemo treatments. Her hair is starting to grow back in. Her appetite is returning. She’s running and playing with friends instead of dancing with IV poles.

As soon as I heard of the party – I knew I had to go and celebrate too! When I got there I found Meera with a new friend. Cinderella. icon smile Meera: July

There have been a few online auctions to help Meera’s family with the costs they’ve had to face due to this journey thru cancer… at one online auction someone had donated a princess who comes to your party. The recipient of this prize, turned around and donated it back to Meera. So generous – and the perfect gift for this princess.

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Meera’s family did such a great job with the party – so much for the kids to do. Everyone had so much fun!

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It was really fun for me to meet in person so many people who I have “met” online who are such a part of Meera’s life. Always nice to meet face to face!

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I had posted this image on my Facebook page (link) earlier as it’s such a special image for me. I met these two girls back in December at the Ronald McDonald House. Meera was in the midst of her chemo treatments, and Rebekah was waiting for a new heart. These two – a teenager from the east coast and a toddler from the GTA – would normally have nothing in common. But they both knew what it meant to fight for their lives. Literally. I’m so happy that now Meera has finished her chemo, and Rebekah has received her new heart and after almost a year she is heading back home. I love this two girls strength. I may just print this for my desk for when I need inspiration.

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And a few more of the girls together.

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And of course – what is a party without CAKE?!

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And I’ll sign off with these two images – one of Meera’s Grandpa’s new tattoo, and one of her Grandma’s vehicle. “I believe in MEERAcles!”

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Celebrating life and love,


July 30, 2012 Beautiful Girls

Saturday was a big day – it was Meera’s “Chemo is done” party! I’ll share more soon – but wanted to share one image for now.

This photo is very special to me… I met Rebekah and Meera back in December. They both became good friends during their time at Ronald McDonald House in Toronto. Since then Rebekah has received a new heart and Meera has completed chemo. A teenager and a toddler, one from Ontario and the other from the East Coast… on first glance they have nothing in common. But these two warriors have more in common and a tighter bond than many. They know what it means to fight for your life. Love their friendship.

Two beautiful, strong girls I’m honoured to know.

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Celebrating life and love,


June 2, 2012 Meera – May

(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 and her story in her mom’s words.)

It was so fun to catch up with Meera and her family this month at their home on a beautiful Spring day! Meera’s dad, Roy, has worked really hard at making their backyard into a bit of an oasis for his girls. There are berries growing, fruit trees, a swing, a greta new deck… he’s done an awesome job! And you can tell the girls love to be back there. It’s always fun to see Meera outside the hospital, simply enjoying life as a two year old little girl.

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Notice MEera’s nails are painted – not just in this post, but in every single visit. She could not understand why my nails weren’t painted and kept asking me why. Think I better paint them before my next visit!

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Isn’t this toy castle phenomenal? Yes, I did climb in.

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Laura’s hair looks so fun after she shaved it for Meera a couple months ago. Love the red!

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Daddy’s helper.

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Somehow, I think this is all the reward Roy needs for all his hard work. Meera cuddles.

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And let’s not forget little Ameena.

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Ameena is the most laid back, easy going kid.

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And I’ll sign off with my favourite image. I just think Meera looks so happy in her daddy’s arms with her baby sister.

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May’s visit was also fun because my girls got to meet Meera for the first time! They just kept saying afterwards “She’s so cute…. like really, really cute… I just love her….” Here’s an iphone picture of them with her (LINK).

Stay tuned for more of Meera as Monday is her last chemo treatment! Can’t wait!

Celebrating life and love,


May 2, 2012 Meera – April

(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, and her story in her mom’s words.)

There are times I can forget Meera has the big “c” word. I know that seems silly as I visit her monthly in the hospitals and see her unwell. But, I also see her laugh and play and be a typical two year old. For some reason this week it hit me how this wee little munchkin is fighting this battle for her life. Meera’s last MRI came back great, her chemo finishes in just over a month – and things are looking great… but the fact that this little Miss has had to fight this war can make my heart ache. Yesterday her mom shared how a 16year old friend with the same cancer as Meera passed away this week. 16years old. I hope and pray that in my lifetime we see a cure to cancer. Today I’m wearing my “cancer sucks” shirt we had made up when my dad went through his cancer scare. I am also stepping out to enjoy and savour this day – and every day – because I can. I’m sure that 16 year old, and countless others, would have given anything to enjoy one more day. May I not take this day, this breath, this moment for granted.

Sigh. Big breath.

Okay – so on Monday I went to join Meera for her last small chemo treatment. In June Meera has her last big chemo treatment. In July we party. icon smile Meera   April

When I got there Meera didn’t look overly thrilled to be there.

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I have loved getting to know Meera – I love kids so much. She is getting more and more comfortable with me, and I was able to take her down to the Teddy Bear Sanctuary on her ward and spend some time one on one hanging out with her.

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There are so many great volunteers – one elderly lady volunteer, brought Meera in a stuffed bear and some colouring. She told me that they buy the bears, and then make the little sweaters and outfits for them. So sweet! I LOVE seeing how people use whatever gifts they have to bring cheer and hope.

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We headed back to the oncology room – such a fun place for kids! – to wait. So much to do and play with!

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And let’s not forget sleeping beauty… Meera’s wee sister slept most of the time. But I did manage to get some snuggles in first. icon smile Meera   April

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And then it was show time. First they had to access her port, take some bood samples, etc. Poor Meera. What kid wants to lay down and let people poke and prod at them? I can’t even get my kids to let me brush their hair! She looked so sad… and when she started to reach for me and yell “hold hand” for me to hold her hand, I wished I could have. I am always amazed at how strong and loving Roy and Laura are with her.

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And then within seconds of having it done, she sits up, wipes her tears and in her cheery little voice starts playing again. Love. This. Kid.

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I love how hospitals and nurses make things fun for kids. Meera walked with the nurse to send her blood “to the moon” (aka – the vacuum system that sends it to the lab!).

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Then once the blood report came back, we could proceed with the chemo.

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And more waiting….

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The nurse brought in a whoopee cushion – hilarious! Meera’s face whenever someone sat on it was priceless!

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Meera has all the staff charmed as she wanders the halls and explores.

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Laura has an ability to make everything fun for Meera.

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When I left Meera was doing okay…

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Shortly afterwards though her fever spiked, her hemoglobin dropped and she needed red blood, her nose started ripping blood again, her blood platelets dropped too… and so back to the hospital goes the family. Such an exhausting, emotional roller coaster.

Please keep this family of four in your thoughts and prayers. And above all remember to….

celebrate life and love!


I am loving my time with Miss Meera each month and her family. They are such an amazing team! If you’ve been following the blog you will have met Meera back in December (, in January we visited her at her local hospital (link) and in February at her home (link). You can read her story through her mom’s words HERE.

This month, I met up with them at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto as she was to have her “big chemo” that day. She has chemo treatments regularly and then a “big” one about once a month. Now – I have to stop for a minute and talk about Sick Kids. Every time I go, I am amazed by this place, the staff, volunteers, kindness, love… and so thankful we live so close! I have met kids from China, England, the Caribbean, Nunuvat, Nova Scotia, and more as they come from all over the world to this top notch hospital. I too often take it for granted. Melissa – an awesome child life specialist – shared with me this story about Sick Kids (I apologize if I get some facts a bit off… going from memory!). They had a special board of directors at the hospital made up of kids, and asked them what they wanted the hospital to look like. They answered “a shopping mall!”. So, the man who designed the Eaton’s Centre designed Sick Kids. And it is beautiful! But it’s not just the beauty of the building – it’s the people. As you will see below – you bump into awesome people around every corner. Volunteers there just to play with kids. Nurses who are beyond amazing (and I’m fortunate to know a few and they are incredible people). It’s really amazing.

But back to Miss Meera.

When I met up with them we first had some good news! They just had the results from the previous week’s MRI that everything is looking good! Yay!

Then we began the wait for her to get hooked up for hydration and her chemo. As we waited, Meera spotted a new friend…. a clown! I believe the woman is a child life specialist, but what I know for certain – is she was amazing with the kids. She entertained them with bubbles, danced with them, gave them stickers, and had them laughing and forgetting – even for a few minutes – where they were and why.

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Okay – I have to stop and mention the shoes! They were those sweet ones that have squeakers in them and make a noise when you walk. Let’s just say Meera was bringing a smile to everyone’s face as she squeaked along.

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We then wandered over to one of the play room’s to wait. So much fun for her!

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And let’s not forget little Ameena. This girl gets cuter each month. And seriously could not ask for a better baby to spend hours and days up at the hospital, and simply smile and coo and charm everyone within a mile radius.

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Finally it’s time! They have a room for Meera!

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First, more tests. You know… I can not even imagine being poked and prodded so much. I think I’d react the same. Meera was just sick of it all.

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Fortunately moms and dads are awesome comforters.

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But then, in a blink of an eye, a nurse asks if they can take her weight and all is forgotten and she cheerfully says “yep!” and all goes honky dory from there. She’s an amazing trooper.

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Meera has been through this so much – she likes to help out too. SHe knows just what to do – either for herself, or for checking out her favourite toy… her baby sister.

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Love how Meera is checking out Ameena, and Ameena is checking out the nurse’s badge.

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Oh Ameena… let’s just stop and love on her for a minute. These two sisters are awesome!

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Such an amazing family – and such an honour to document them all. I’ll leave you with a family snapshot – can’t believe how much Roy & LAura’s hair has grown since they shaved it last month!

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Celebrating life and love,


February 21, 2012 Meera – February

Note: If you are new to my blog, I am photographing the beautiful Miss Meera once a month this year to document her journey through cancer. You can read about her story in her mom’s words HERE, and view my first time meeting here HERE and last month’s entry HERE.

After last month’s heart wrenching images of Meera in the hospital – we decided to show her in a happier setting. At home with her family. I travelled up to their home and just hung out with Meera for a little while before pulling out my camera. Here she is sitting between my legs playing on my iPhone. Typical kid loving electronics!

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Meera showed me all her treasures in her room – such a girly girl!

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Love how her dad had cut all of Barbie’s hair off to match Meera. So sweet.

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Meera has a doll that has wigs – and the wigs fit Meera. So fun!

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And let’s not forget her little sister Ameena! She woke up in all her cuteness… and those legs! Love them!

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Meera’s own personal doll!

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Meera coloring with her family…

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Getting Meera to eat is a constant struggle – trying lots of different food to find something she’ll eat!

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Like any two year old – your little sister sometimes drives you nuts….

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And Meera loves to watch movies!

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But movie time is interrupted by meds time – boo.

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Meera soon fell asleep while watching her movie though. So sweet.

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Ameena fell asleep too!

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And then my favourite part.

Meera’s mom and dad shaved each other’s heads to show their support for Meera. As Laura said to me “It’s a late Valentine’s gift for Meera. Some people give chocolates or flowers to say ‘I love you’. We’re shaving our heads to say it.”

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And the best gift they can give Meera… love and support.

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Laura’s purple heart tattoo on her neck is one Meera drew.

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Checking out the new do!

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And when I left this is what I saw. Love this little one.

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Laura said when Meera woke up and saw their shaved heads she was so excited and just kept saying “Thank you!!!”

If you would like to support Meera and her family – check out this online auction to suport them!

Celebrating life and love,


January 21, 2012 Meera-January 2

I just had an email from Laura (Meera’s mom)… she had wanted to share Meera’s story in the comments and answer some of your questions, but it got too long so I said I would blog it instead. HEre is a bit about Meera from Laura. And if you have missed our Meera posts – you can view them here and here.

Hello, and thank you. Thank you so much Krista for choosing us to document for your personal project, I am honored that we stuck out to you, in an unfortunate amount of children and families that are sadly experiencing a very similar new and different lifestyle. And thank you to those who are sending prayers and positive energy our way. It means the world to us.

I’ll try my best to have a condensed version of Miss Meeras journey so far to bring everyone up to speed on Meera and her condition. I can simply start with, in July, life was normal. And in August everything changed forever.

We noticed a lump that grew rapidly under her nose, which made her look like little Cindy Lou who from whoville and through a slew of tests from non to very invasive (xrays, ultrasounds, MRI, CATscan, biopsies, bone marrow aspirates, Bone and PET scan, and and ECHO test) we received the devastating news she in fact had a rare aggressive malignant tumor called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. She had to have a ‘port’ inserted immediately in order to administer her Chemotherapy and sedatives for her radiations. She also had to have a gtube (an internal feeding tube) as they strongly believed she would receive mouth sores from the chemo and radiation and might not eat which means healing would be more difficult. (proper nutrition is an important factor in healing-and they were very right about the loss of appetite) Meera has already completed her 28 days of radiation, one of those days was her second birthday, on Halloween. It’s an awful feeling knowing you are doing your best to be a good parent and trying to fix something she doesnt even know is a problem and part of her fixing includes putting her through procedures that cause her such a great deal of pain and sickness.

‘Rads’ were brutal. Her face was so badly burned from it she looked more like a burn victim then a cancer patient towards the end. And the after effects lasted much longer after they were completed as that’s how they worked. So many nights, and mornings were spent cleaning up after she was sick.

The chemo protocol is a 43 week treatment plan that started Sept 7th. The Dr’s decided that it was far too invasive for surgery to remove the tumor and to see how things went with chemo and radiation. They also didn’t want to give us any percentages in terms of prognosis as there’s always that chance of something happening. But they do seem quite content with how quickly the tumor had taken to the treatment even in the first few weeks. The problem with this specific type of cancer is it has a nasty tendency to spread to other places (metastasize) and fast, but fortunately it was only where we saw it, which means we really did the set we could in terms of getting her taken care if right away.

We had to stay at the Ronald McDonald house (which we are eternally grateful for) as Meeras radiations were to be everyday, as well as the post radiation evaluations. Her chemo was also modified while undergoing ‘rads’ as one of the drugs were not compatible, which means her hair already started to grow back. Her hair began falling out exactly one week after her baby sister was born, Sat Sept 24th, and by Tuesday the 27th, she was bald. And now the ‘rads’ are over she is back on the heavy duty drugs and will be loosing her sweet peach fuzz, and I again will shave my head so she does not have to endure the looks alone. She is not in this fight alone.

My apologies if I jump all over the place, and for a lengthy post, but it certainly is quite a fair bit of information to try and squeeze in. Again I do want to thank everyone on following us on our journey through Meeras battle, and Krista for being there with her amazing photography skills and perception. As difficult as some images can look, I feel as if there are far more emotions involved such as strength and beauty. Meera has given me a gift I could never imagined I had, and cherish every single moment we have together, to be honest I always have embraced every moment, good or bad. And I always will. I look forward to sharing more each month, sometimes we do have a chance to be a normal family and have fun with the simpler things in life.

And because you always need a photo… I love this one of Meera with her pink nails, princess dolls… and IV tubes.

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Celebrating life and love,


January 20, 2012 Meera – January

If you have been following my blog, you will know that I will be photographing Meera and her family each month as a personal assignment… documenting their journey through cancer.

A lot of people have asked me “why?” I am doing this assignment. It is something I have wanted to do for years – so many of us are touched by cancer. Too many of us. But not all of us know what a day in the life of someone actually going through it looks like. What the reality of the big “C” word in your life can mean.

When I met Meera and her mom, Laura I just knew they were a fit. Laura is so open to talk about their journey and Meera is just so stinking cute! And as I met with them this week, I was reassured this was the right choice – I love this family already.

The night before I Was to photograph Meera in her home, I got a text from Laura. Meera had been admitted to the hospital – after her chemo that day her blood platelets were quite low and she needed to stay in the hospital. SHe asked if I wanted to reschedule. No way! This is life for them. One thing I really appreciate about Laura, is she explains everything to me and is so informative. And she is so positive through it all. I heard her say a few times “this is our life now.” Just a fact.

I wanted to quickly share a bit of their story as it is so unbelievable to me. I may have a couple dates wrong – going from memory – so Laura, please correct me.

August 21 – Laura is 8 months pregnant with her second child and turns 26!
August 24 – Meera is diagnosed with cancer
September 17 – Roy and Laura’s second daughter Ameena (meaning “faith”) is born (3 weeks after Meera’s diagnosis!)

Laura calmly told me how she asked to be induced, as she was needing to go around Meera’s chemo schedule as well. She had her baby, then stayed in the hospital a couple days until it was Meera’s chemo day in the same hospital so that she could be there with her.

I am a mom of two daughters almost the same age. Remembering to brush my teeth was a challenge in the early days. I am absolutely in awe of Roy and Laura’s strength and great attitude. Love their little “Meera-cle”.

Without further ado – here’s a glimpse into January with Meera.

When I got there, Meera was at an ex-ray so I caught Laura having some cuddle time with Ameena. They were in a private room, but that still meant that overnight the sleeping arrangements were less than ideal – Meera got the bed, Laura got the pull out chair and Ameena got the stroller.

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Grandma was there too – and they’re doing such a great job making sure Ameena gets attention too!

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Meera came back from her ex-rays and didn’t want to get out of her stroller. She sat and watched Dora with her Princess dolls!

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A nurse came in to check her blood platelets. It was so sad – and I debated posting these.. but this is reality. I loved watching Laura comfort her though.

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I should mention – Laura buzzed her hair off when Meera started to lose hers. What an awesome act of love.

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Meera doesn’t always eat – so she has a “button” she had surgically put in where she can be given medication or tube fed. This particular day they could not get her to eat or drink – so it may mean she gets “fed” later by tube.

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Daddy trying to get Meera to eat…

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And all the while, happy go lucky Ameena is chilling out.

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Those legs!! Love her.

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Laura giving Meera some of her medication – Meera thought it was water in there and squirted it in her mouth… she wasn’t too happy to find meds! Love how she pretended to give her princess dolls meds too!

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The main thing I saw though was love, love and more love.

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Beautiful, beautiful Meera.

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Celebrating life and love,


December 31, 2011 Miss Meera

I love New Year’s… a time to reflect, dream and anticipate change. I like to do personal projects with my photography to keep me snapping for the love of it. I haven’t done a formal project – but I have wanted to do a personal project like this one I’m starting for awhile – but had to meet the right person. When I met Meera – I knew.

You may remember me blogging recently about photographing at the Ronald McDonald House. While there, I met beautiful two year old Meera and her wonderful mom, Laura. Less than a month before Meera’s little sister, Ameena, was born – Meera was diagnosed with cancer. Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma more specifically – a form of cancer that effects only a few hundred in the United States each year. I can’t even imagine what Laura was going through with having to deliver a baby, and dealing with the shocking news of her firstborn. August 29, 2011 – Meera was diagnosed. Sept. 17, 2011 – Ameena was born. As a mom of two little girls myself (and about the same age difference)… this just hit home to me.

Through social media Laura and I have been chatting… and starting in January, I will be photographing Miss Meera once a month for a year. Not the “smile-and-sit-still” portraits – but images that show her journey. What a day in the life of Meera looks like. Good and bad.

I am excited to see where this year will take Meera and her family. Their slogan has been “I believe in MEERA-cles.” Hoping you will all believe alongside us as I share each month about little Miss Meera.

Some friends of Laura’s have started fundraising through online sales of great baby products to help offset the costs of medication and travel, etc. Check them out here (and read in more detail some of Meera’s story). I love their “Spit on Cancer” bibs! Reminds me of the “Cancer Sucks” shirts we made up when my dad went through cancer!

But for now… let me introduce you to Meera. And I invite you to journey alongside us this year as we believe in Meera-cles and update you each month. Warning – you will fall in love with her. She’s so infectious with her smile and charm.

MEERA2011 015 Miss Meera

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Celebrating life and love,


December 29, 2011 Ronald McDonald House

As I mentioned in my last post, I love going to the Ronald McDonald House to photograph. Being a part of the Smiling Eyes team means we have the fortune of going to photograph at the RMH – a different photographer each month. I always try to request December. December is such a busy month and it is so easy to get caught up in shopping, eating and socializing… it’s good to sit back and really count our blessings and realize how good we have it with health, family and sleeping in our own home. For those without those luxuries, I am so grateful their is such an amazing place like the Ronald McDonald House. This time I Got to photograph at the brand new location that had only been open about 3 weeks. What a gorgeous place! So nice for families to have an apartment, room to be on their own, and an amazing support network!

HEre are a few of the amazing people I got to meet this year….

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MEERA2011 023 Ronald McDonald House

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MEERA2011 024 Ronald McDonald House

Celebrating life and love,


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