About two weeks ago, we were randomly contacted by CURE Media Group, who found our website via Google (our guess is that they typed in Buffalo + photojournalism, because we’re close to the top of the list on that search). Anyway, they asked if we were interested in being a part of a photojournalistic book project, highlighting some of the most dedicated and amazing oncology nurses across the country. After checking out CURE’s website, and reading about the Extraordinary Healers Award, we felt honored to be a part of this project.
It makes complete sense that one of the nominees for this award is a nurse at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. We regularly hear stories about the “extraordinary healing” that takes place there, and know people personally who have experienced it. As soon as we received Kathleen’s contact info, we were on the horn immediately to set up a time to come in and photograph her in her element, doing what she does everyday. Kathleen was nominated for the Extraordinary Healers Award by her friend and colleague, Mary Ann, who is also a nurse a Roswell.
Mary Ann was waiting for us in the lobby when we arrived, and she brought us up to the Breast Center to meet Kathleen. We began by giving the two ladies a brief run-down of what we had been hired to do, and what the photo session was going to be like, and we said to Mary Ann, “Before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about why you nominated Kathleen? We didn’t get to read the essay.” Well! We found out that Kathleen (pretty much single-handedly) reorganized the way breast cancer patients receive treatment at Roswell. Due to her efforts, they no longer have to be shipped around the Roswell Campus to receive treatment; now, they can get everything they need right there in the Breast Center, which, according to Mary Ann, has drastically improved the experience for the patients.
The more we learned about Kathleen, the more we realized how truly deserving of this award she was. She also formed a community outreach group, which provides breast cancer patients with accurate information about their disease, wigs and scarves, and moral support. This next photo was taken in the Community Room, with the scarves and wigs noticeable in the background.
One of the things that definitely made a lasting impression on me, was Kathleen’s comment about how well she gets to know her patients. “Some of them are with us for ten years or more receiving treatment,” she explained, “so, we really get to know them personally.” It is difficult to comprehend the emotional tenacity one would have to have in order to do Kathleen’s job; but, then again, that’s why she’s the one receiving this award. What an amazing woman!
To wrap up our session with Kathleen and Mary Ann, we headed out to the courtyard next to the main Roswell building. Luckily, the weather was super-cooperative that day.
For this last photo, we asked them to give us a “we will kick cancer to the curb” pose, and we think they pulled it off quite nicely. :)
Kathleen and Mary Ann, thank-you for everything you do to make the world a better place; you are an inspiration, and it was our genuine pleasure to photograph you!
We submitted somewhere around 30 photos to CURE from this session, and we won’t know which one or two will be published in the book until the end of December; but, either way, we are thrilled to have been a part of this project.