The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer

hand holding hair strands

“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino

Over the course of learning about this woman’s amazing story, I found myself swiping at my eyes and just being all the more thankful for another day. We have all heard about the devastating disease that is cancer, but not many are aware of the struggles and emotions involved in the day-to-day activities of the people involved. Photographer Angelo Merendino painstakingly documented his wife’s battle with cancer and has shared their story with us in an effort to “humanize the face of cancer.”

woman with cancer sitting by window

The first time I saw Jennifer I knew. I knew she was the one. I knew, just like my dad when he sang to his sisters in the winter of 1951 after meeting my mom for the first time, “I found her.”

couple drinking beer

Angelo and Jennifer were married in Central Park surrounded by their family and friends. You would think that the couple would have at least a few years of marital bliss to look forward to, but just five months later, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer.

shaving head of hear self portrait

Initially, the purpose of documenting his wife’s battle was to show their friends and family what they were going through in the hopes of receiving more help and support. The decision to post these powerful images online was made after a close friend suggested posting them and once he did, the positive response poured in. Emails from women also plagued with breast cancer spoke of how Jen’s story, with the help of Angelo’s images, inspired others to keep fighting despite the pain and struggle.

jennifer losing hair

Angelo also documented people’s reactions to Jen as she began to use a walker to help her get around. Almost 4 years of treatment took its toll on Jen and the chronic pain was simply becoming too much for her to bear and the added support became a necessity.

man looking at woman with walker

Jen’s battle with cancer was tough, but to be on the other side of the camera was no easy feat either. It is a testament of Angelo’s dedication and support for his wife. It speaks of a profound love, one that was tested by life’s realities but remained steadfast in a trying time. “These photographs do not define us, but they are us,” he writes on his blog.

few eyelashes left on eyelid
After nearly a year and a half of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, a few eyelashes still hang on.

To this day, people continue to respond to their story. It is a reminder that cancer survivors, even when declared cancer-free, will forever be looking over their shoulders for signs of relapse. As Angelo puts it, you “have to define a new sense of normal, often daily.”

Visit this website to view the full series or show your support on the Facebook page.

Be sure to join us on FacebookTwitter and Google+ to stay updated on our most recent posts.

Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.