I meet all kinds of people because of my photography. And for this, I am truly thankful!! Michelle was one of my brides a few years ago. I knew from when I met her at the consultation that she was a special person, she radiates kindness and love. We adored photographing her wedding day! Both her and her husband are musicians. So, it wasn’t surprising when they performed at their own wedding- it was actually “demanded” that they perform by the folks attending their reception. Michelle has such a beautiful voice – rich and powerful!
Fast forward to this year- Michelle had been posting some things on social media, I could tell she was facing something very hard. I wasn’t sure what. I reached out with a gift certificate for a session for her and her mom. At the session, she then told me that she had been diagnosed with MS!!
DG- Tell me about your diagnosis:
M- I went to many doctors and then specialists who did all sorts of tests to help cross off what it couldn’t be to pave the way to what it is. They never want to start off saying they think its “this that or the third” because they need to be certain when diagnosing a serious lifelong disease. After all my tests crossed a lot of possibilities off they realized it was time to do an MRI. Two days later, I got a scary phone call telling me that I needed to come in right away as the scan revealed something they couldn’t tell me over the phone. Talk about nerve racking. At the office, my neurologist at the time said that they found many lesions and plaque on my spinal chord and brain, which is textbook MS. However, he was not a specialist and could not diagnose me, so he sent me to a specialist in Georgetown that is one of the top Neurologists in the country. He ran some tests and then officially that day, diagnosed me with the Multiple Sclerosis.
DG- How did your life change:
M- Just in a year my life has changed a lot. I learned a lot about my self as well. I learned all about my inner strength. Staying as positive as I can through this was quite a feat. I learned who was truly genuine in my life and am very grateful to those people who have been there through this year. I always have tried to think about others and helping them, so it’s been a change for me to be the one that needs help sometimes. I have grown many connections with people, with MS and without.
DG-What did having your portraits taken mean to you:
M- Doing these portraits with my mom was very special to me. In ways that it may be hard for me to fully explain. My mom is a total fighter with struggles she’s faced in her life. I was born with a strong will, but my mom has enhanced that even more in me by her example of how she’s overcome all that she’s been through. She’s always supported me through the years but in this last year she’s been such a saving grace and made me not feel as alone. So to be able to get all pampered together was a fun and meaningful experience for many reasons for us. Some days I can’t even move or have the energy to shower, put on makeup or do my hair. They are total afterthoughts. So getting pampered was special and doing the photoshoot with my mom was an experience we will never forget. I remember being in a lot of pain during the shoot but wanted to fight through it. I used my pain to my advantage because I think my inner strength really shines through in the poses and in my face. My mom and I have also connected on another level this year because each other more as we both fight with lifelong diseases and disabilities.
DG- Even though this has been extremely hard, what are you grateful for:
M- I am so grateful to God and my family and friends. They have held my hand through all of this. I am thankful for you. You were my amazing wedding photographer that’s turned into a beautiful friendship with my family and for giving us this day to enjoy together. These pictures and memories will last a lifetime and beyond. I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made new and old this year. For my team in Georgetown for helping me slow down this disease and ease daily symptoms or attacks. I’m also grateful for the technology and awareness that is now even more prevalent in the world for MS. I am grateful to be able to be an advocate for people fighting a lifelong invisible battle every day. I am proud to have gotten through this year in the way that I did. I’ve tried to rise above every challenge I’ve faced and hope to continue to empower people with this Disease and without and to be a role model for people to never give up hope no matter what they are faced with in their lives.
This lady right here is a WARRIOR!! Michelle is now battling this disease, and she has come to a place that she is ready to use her BEAUTIFUL VOICE in hopes to help others!
I am honored to share a little of her story! I am so thankful that Michelle and her mom were two of my 97 women that I photographed this year.
PS- Please take a look here at a song Michelle wrote and co produced. And all proceeds of the CD go to the agency that handled Michelle’s adoption. (Yep, she is adopted)