WICHITA FALLS, TX (RNN Texoma) - A local photographer is using her art to remind those who have been impacted by cancer they are not alone. The first time the owner of Joyful Memories Photography, Rachel Williamson experienced cancer was when she was 12 years old.
“I didn’t think it was fair, you know as a kid, ” said Williamson.
Williamson was only a preteen when her mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She lost her mother at the age of 16.
"On Father's day I started having lower right abdomen pain," said Williamson.
At the age of 19, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had her right kidney removed.
"Even after you're in remission, or you're a survivor, that fear of it coming is always there," said Williamson.
That is why this survivor is using her talent to encourage others who have been impacted by cancer to stay strong.
“I was just really honored because she told me a little bit of her story too, and that’s just a great thing to do. To give back,” said Rebecca Maxwell, one of the people who was selected to get her photos taken.
Maxwell, who has spent many years taking care of others is now battling a fight of her own.
“I work as a nurse so it’s easy to forget and to lose track of our own self’s while we are taking care of others,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell is fighting stage four colon cancer and even though she's not comfortable in front of the lens she decided to take on something different for her family.
“It’s all that our family is going to have to look back on you know years down the road and I want my grandkids to have something,” said Maxwell.
While Williamson said these photo shoots are meant to be a beautiful reminder that they will not be defeated, they are also helping spread awareness.
“When I found out that I had it [cancer] instead of feeling like oh poor me, I was like I need to tell people to get screened,” said Maxwell.
“I have this huge bucket list and I just want to go and experience it and I want to experience each part of life and that’s really how it impacted me,” said Williamson. “It really changed my life. In a way, cancer was a blessing because I think I would take life for granted if it wasn’t.”
Both ladies said having a good support system is key. If you are a cancer patient, survivor, even a caregiver and are looking for a support group you can give the American Cancer Society a call, 1-800-227-2345.