Cancer Has Never Looked So Beautiful

740
740

Shannon O’Hara was four months away from walking down the aisle when her family doctor called to tell her that she had lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. The 28-year-old from Redding, Conn., had imagined the next months in her life filled with fittings and tastings, not chemotherapy sessions. She’d pictured herself wearing her mother’s vintage lace veil, falling perfectly with her hair as she said, “I do” to her fiancé, Jeff. Now, she’d have to focus on staying alive. She fell to her knees and began to cry.

“It was such a shocking phone call,” O’Hara told The Mighty in an email. “The whole evening is basically a blur.”

In the beginning of her treatment, O’Hara planned to go far and wide to find a wig that matched what her hair had looked like. With summer approaching, she settled for head scarves — a cooler alternative — and eventually came to love mixing and matching colors and patterns. On hotter days, she switched to baseball caps or went completely bald inside until eventually she ran daily errands without covering up her head. With cancer comes forced compromises, but O’Hara never gave up on the idea that she’d be married in her mother’s veil. Seamstresses at The Plumed Serpent in Westport, Conn., ensured she didn’t have to — they created a lace cap to attach to the veil. O’Hara would be a bald, beautiful bride.

Jones_0876 (1)

On July 13, 2013 in Washington, D.C., O’Hara had the perfect wedding.
(All photos by Andrea Jacobson for The Observatory).

Jones_0237

Jones_0266

Jones_0584

Jones_0598

“In the middle of the reception, being surrounded by family and friends, I decided to take off my lace cap and just be a beautiful, bald bride and celebrate with everyone,” O’Hara told The Mighty. “I didn’t feel any different, in fact, I felt just as beautiful, possibly even more!”

Jones_0691

Jones_0065

Andrea Jacobson, the wedding’s D.C.-based photographer, told The Mighty that O’Hara had both the best attitude and the biggest challenges she’d ever seen a bride have on her wedding day. Her perseverance comes through in the photos. This is why, almost a year later, the pictures are still being shared online. O’Hara, a kindergarten teacher, has been in remission since November 2013. She loves that her photos have been seen by more than just friends and family.

“People don’t necessarily need to be sick with cancer to be inspired by my story. I hope that people will see the silver lining in every day,” O’Hara told The Mighty. “I hope that anyone who is going through a struggle can look at my photos and read my story and know that in time, everything will work out the way that it is supposed to.”

h/t Style Me Pretty

740
740
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

50 Loved Ones Surprise Terminally Ill Friend With Smile-Inducing Flash Mob

191
191

Sometimes, you just need to smile.

In the video below, 50 friends and family from five states come together to bust out some moves for a woman named Amy, who’s been battling ovarian cancer since October 2012.

“Amy has been an indelible force in the lives of so many people; as we all bare witness to her pain, I wanted to find a way to remind her how surrounded she is by support,” the video’s description reads.

Watch Amy’s reaction below. This kind of love is too strong to ignore.

h/t World Lifestyle

191
191
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Woman Captures Year With Lung Cancer in 2-Minute Video, Urges Others to ‘Fear Less’

77
77

Jennifer Glass knows it’s impossible to be fearless when facing cancer — but it is possible to fear less.

When Glass was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in January 2013, she asked her husband to start taking a photo of her each day so she could see how she changed while undergoing treatment. A year later, she compiled those portraits in the video below and accompanied them with a song she cowrote with her brother, Lawrence Glass, called “I Seem to Have Cancer Today.” The 2-minute clip already has more than 270,000 views.


Glass’ cancer has stopped growing, but she’s not officially in remission. Along with her video, she shares her journey on Facebook and in a Parade.com blog that you should definitely read.

Here’s an example of the type of insight she regularly shares:

Living with cancer means living. Cancer is part of my life now. But that doesn’t mean it is my life.  It’s sort of like traffic — an unpleasant reality that is usually manageable but can be hugely disruptive. Some days I just have to accept that it’s a day for the slow lane. But most days I pull on my big girl pants (mine have black sequins), rev the engine, and hit the gas. Radio cranked to 11. Singing at the top of my lungs.

Glass also talked about her diagnosis in a powerful two-minute talk through “Own The Room,” a public speaking course.

“I do believe that if you take fear out of the equation, even a little bit,” she says in that talk (below), “it enables you to see more clearly, make better decisions and, in some small degree, feel like you’re controlling something that is uncontrollable.”


h/t Today.com

77
77
TOPICS
Video,
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Football Star's Choice for Flower Girl Has Everyone Cheering

97
97

Earlier this month, the Cincinnati Bengals picked former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in the fifth round of the NFL draft. McCarron recently made an arguably bigger pick — he and his fiancee, Katherine Webb, have chosen Starla Chapman, a 5-year-old leukemia survivor, as their flower girl.

Starla met McCarron in 2011 at University of South Alabama Children’s and Women’s Hospital. The two struck up an incredible friendship, which ESPN documented in the piece below.


Making the pick all the more special was Starla’s response when Webb asked her to be a part of the wedding: “ROLL TIDE!”

We’re looking forward to these wedding photos.


97
97
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Terminally Ill Mother Hangs On Long Enough to See Her Dying Wish Come True

43
43

Darlene Sugg wanted nothing more than to see her daughter, Megan, graduate from high school. Last week, even when her four-year battle with colorectal cancer took a turn for the worse, the 47-year-old mom saw that dream through. Because Glen Burnie High School administrators in Maryland held a private, bedside graduation ceremony for the Sugg family.

“She was hanging on to see my proud moment,” Megan told NBC News. “She knew it meant a lot.”

“Everybody started tearing up and crying,” Steve Sugg, Megan’s dad, told The Capital Gazette after the ceremony. “It was a very emotional experience and a powerful one.”

Sugg passed away two days after the May 8 ceremony, according to NBC.

43
43
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

3 Siblings Wrote Letters to Their Late Mother and Tied Them to Balloons. They Landed on the Right Doorstep.

31
31

In the midst of immense grief this past Mother’s Day, Renee Finney’s three siblings wrote letters to their late mom, tied the messages to balloons and released them into the sky.

Finney, 42, passed away on May 5. She’d been battling cancer for more than a year, her 25-year-old daughter, Karries, told KGTV. With funeral expenses looming, she and her siblings settled for saying goodbye to their mom with handwritten notes and helium.

“At first I thought [the letters] were really dumb, like she’s not going to get them,” 18-year-old Davion Finney told KGTV. “But if we didn’t put the balloons outside at 8:30 last night, we would still be here worrying about how to save up money to bury my mom the right way.”

The balloons, of course, did not reach their mother. But they reached a generous good Samaritan 30 miles away.

Watch what happened:


31
31
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.