Parents Have Beautiful Photo Shoot for Newborn With Brain Tumor


[UPDATE: After this was originally reported, doctors determined that Abigail’s tumor was benign. Abigail underwent a successful surgery and has since left the hospital.]

Professional photographer Mary Huszcza held back tears as she captured Erika and Stephen Jones looking at their daughter, Abigail.

The parents of two whispered, kissed and prayed to their baby, who was born just days before with an aggressive brain tumor doctors said would only grow back if operated on. Because chemo would likely kill Abigail, her mom and dad decided to take her home with pediatric hospice. They’d rather spend time enjoying her and her sister, 2-year-old Audrey.

If [Abigail] dies, I don’t want it to be in plastic box in a hospital NICU,” Erika Jones told ABC News. “It will be home with us, surrounded by love and in our arms.”

Erika and Stephen Jones with their daughter Abigail on a bed
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography

The Jones family, from Jacksonville, Florida, decided to let Huszcza, who’s also a pediatric occupational therapist, take the emotional photos below so they can forever look at and cherish them, even if Abigail is no longer in their arms. They told The Mighty that their daughter’s life, though most likely short, has purpose, and these photos reflect just that.

Down syndrome, brain tumor, doesn’t matter,” Jones told The Mighty. “Nothing about her is a mistake, nothing about her is an error. She is perfect in every way, and she fits right into our family. She was designed specifically for us.”

The images and the family’s story have already made headlines — appearing on ABC, BuzzFeed and more. Although their story may appear to be a tragic one, the Jones hope people who read about them won’t only feel their pain.

“We pray Abby’s story brings hope to those who are hopeless, peace to those facing terminal illness and encouragement to those facing life’s uncertainties,” Jones told The Mighty. “Many people think this is a hopelessly tragic situation, and sometimes it indeed feels that way, but the moments of joy far outnumber the moments of sorrow.”

That emotion is exactly what Huszcza, who offered to do the shoot for free, hopes the photos portray.

“I want [people] to see the beauty and hope that abides within grief and sadness,” Huszcza told The Mighty. “I don’t want people to see these images and say, ‘What a sad situation.’ I want them to see how beautiful Abigail is and that, despite the unimaginable pain her family is feeling, their faith in her purpose is strong.”

Jones believes God has a plan for her family and for Abigail. Her advice for parents going through an experience like hers would be this:

“Hang on and breathe. We have a tendency to anticipate the worst, but the reality is usually far different and far better than we envisioned. You will love your baby, even though they may be different. You will survive your child’s illness or the loss of your baby. Life is a beautiful dance of joy and grief.”

Erika and Stephen Jones with their daughter Abigail on a bed
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Erika and Stephen Jones' daughter Abigail on a bed
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Erika and Stephen Jones with their daughters
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Erika and Stephen Jones' daughters
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Stephen Jones holding daughter Abigail
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail on a light pink background
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail sleeping
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Stephen Jones holding baby daughter Abigail and kissing her forehead
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Erika and Stephen Jones' daughter Abigail sleeping
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail sleeping in someone's arms
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Stephen Jones kissing forehead of baby daughter Abigail
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Stephen Jones holding baby daughter Abigail
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail sleeping on link pink background
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail sleeping in a white container
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Baby Abigail sleeping on a rug
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Erika Jones next to baby daughter Abigail
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
Dad holding sleeping baby daughter Abigail
Mary Huszcza​ / 8.08 Photography
The Jones family sitting on a bed

[UPDATE 10/13/15: Abigail had a successful surgery and has since left the hospital.]

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: Share a story about one moment or conversation related to a cancer diagnosis or experience that made an impact on you. Find out how to email us a story submission here.

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