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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

SUPERMOM WINNER - Misha Egan | Surviving Cancer: Her Story

Every once in a while I get a heavy heart for someone or something. When I do that I feel like giving to that type of person or group, but never know how. I finally realized that God has blessed me with the ability to capture emotions and moments on camera for others to cherish for the rest of their lives. So in my eyes, that is one of the ways I can give to those who I am passionate about. With my busy schedule, it isn't always easy to do this when I feel like doing it, but every once in a while the burden is so heavy that I HAVE to make it happen, I have to give in anyway possible no matter what my schedule is like. That is when I run a contest to give a free session away to a particular group or person I'm feeling heavy hearted about. My last one I was feeling heavy hearted for was first time mothers who have to give birth while their husband is deployed, so I gave away a free birth session to a first time mother who was giving birth while her husband was deployed. The strength those mothers have to have to do something so difficult and emotional without the love of their lives is just remarkable to me. The hurt those military members have to go through by missing their first child's birth is also just heartbreaking. It was such an emotional experience for me and I was so thankful to have the opportunity to give back in what little way I am able to. You can view that session by clicking HERE.

Anyways, a while back, I started feeling very challenged as a mother. My son & I both had been through a deployment before when my son was around 7 weeks. My husband returned when Jackson was about 7 months old. So needless to say, while that deployment had its own set of challenges for me with numerous emergency room visits from repetitive kidney stone attacks, 1 week long hospital stay, 2 emergency surgeries, and much, much more - I didn't struggle with the mom side of things, just my own emotions, mental state, and health. But as a mother, I didn't struggle. Jackson was too little to really be affected by Hunter being gone. However, the challenge as a mother began when Hunter went away for training for 7 weeks a few months ago. Yes, it was only 7 weeks, but it was my first time having to deal with a child who understood daddy wasn't there anymore but didn't know why or where he went. I couldn't believe how much daddy being gone could affect the emotional state of a 16 month old. They understand and feel so more than we give them credit for even at such a young age. Jackson was so clingy, constantly whining and I mean NON-stop, didn't want to eat, didn't want to do anything but cling onto me and whine and just was a totally different kid. After days and days of that I became overwhelmed and emotions constantly took over me. I totally lost my marbles one day and had a bit of a breakdown and called my mom bawling my eyes out and screaming a bunch of emotional rambles that made no sense. I know it scared the crap out of my mom though because she called every single one of my friends in town begging them to check on me, lol. Needless to say, once I had my little breakdown I picked myself back up and carried on the rest of the 7 weeks. Again, I know it was only 7 weeks and I was thankful for that, but it was still very tough. I then began thinking about the moms who have more than one child while their husbands are deployed. How the heck do they do it? The ones whose husbands are deployed for months on end and they are overwhelmed with all the usual Murphy's Law issues that come a long deployment on top of parenting numerous children. How did they handle the grocery store with more than one? How did they handle 4 kids screaming for daddy instead of just 1? How did they handle mowing the yard while trying to find a sitter for 4 kids instead of just 1? How did they deal with their kids having issues at school due to daddy being gone? How did they deal with all the crazy little things that go wrong with having more than one kid? How did they do it!?!? I lost my marbles with only 1 kid so I can't imagine how crazy I would have went with more than one, lol. However, I began to feel like my issues were small and I felt humbled by all the supermoms out there who do so much more and still manage to stay sane. [even though I'm sure wine helps ;)] Then I got that heavy heart for moms out there and wanted to give to one super strong mom. I wanted to hear stories from moms who had overcome challenges while staying strong for their children no matter the circumstances. So, I did what I do when I get that heavy heart and offered a contest for supermoms. The stories started coming in and I was overwhelmed with all of the amazing strong mothers. However, there was one supermom who stuck out with such an AMAZING story and I was overwhelmed with emotion while reading her story. Misha Egan was her name and let's just say she touched MANY because she won by a long mile with lots of people voting for her - people who didn't even know her but were touched by her story. Reading her story, having the honor of photographing such a strong woman & mother, was SUCH an inspiration to myself and Briana with Makeup by Briana who donated her services as well by doing the makeup and hair for the shoot. I didn't just want to post previews from her shoot like I normally do with shoots, I wanted to hear HER story. Her photo and story from the contest were submitted by one of her friends without her knowing it, so she didn't get to share her entire story and I wanted it to be heard to hope to inspire other moms out there who are struggling. Her story is a good reminder that no matter how bad you think you have it and no matter how much you feel like giving up, you can get through it! You are a mother, you are a supermom of your own sorts! 

Below is her story. It is lengthy [and you've already read through my blabber post lol] but her story is so worth the read! It is an inspirational story! God is amazing & Misha's strength is beyond understanding. Humbling story for sure! Here is a photo of her getting pampered by Makeup by Briana before our shoot [so you can put a face with a name], her story, and then some of my favorites from her shoot. I hope you enjoy! Feel free to share this with anyone who you feel might need encouragement!

"Hi there ~ My name is Misha Egan. I am a 28 year old survivor of Hodgkin's Lymphoma and mommy to two incredible children! I was lucky enough to win a SUPERMOM contest given by the lovely Rachel Smith Photography! My wonderful friend nominated me without my knowledge and to my surprise I won! I wanted to share my story with y'all not just so you can get a little insight of what I went through but so that you may know that you too can get through whatever it is you are going through! Rise above it, overcome it and be the best YOU, you can be! Trust me there were many days that didn't seem possible, but I look back now on what I went through and thankfully its just a distant memory! 
After a bout with pneumonia I went in for what I thought was a routine cat scan to make sure it was gone. When I came out of the scan they told me I needed to see my primary Dr. immediately. I started crying not knowing what was going on. The Radiologist sat me down and showed me the images, he said these are tumors in your chest, if they are cancerous you'll need chemo. Without anything more he had the assistant walk me out to my husband and 4 month old son who were waiting for me. I was terrified with the information I had and went straight to the Dr., where I left again without an answer. A few days later I got a call from the Oncology Department at Balboa Navel Medical Center, they had received my case and I had an appointment. I was lucky enough to have my parents, husband and son at my appointment when the Dr informed me he was 95% sure I had Hodgkin 's Lymphoma. A biopsy to a lymph nod in my neck and a Pet Scan later I was officially diagnosed with Hodgkin 's Lymphoma stage 2B. What they thought was pneumonia was actually two baseball size tumors in my chest.

I started chemo in Jan of 2010 just shy of my 25th birthday. Chemo took it s toll on me. I had almost every side effect you can think of. Body pain and weakness making it almost impossible to get off the floor, sever bone pain, mouth sores making it hard to eat or drink anything. Severe constipation, extremely low white blood count causing me to have to give myself shots, food tasting weird, Hair lose, fatigue. I was on 21 different medications, some chemo but most managing my side affects making me in a somewhat painless state of living.

After 2 months of chemo therapy I receive my 2nd PET scan to see how my cancer was reacting to the chemo. My Dr. called later that night and said he had some good news and some interesting news. Good news is your cancer is responding very well. Interesting news is there was a fetus in your uterus. I was pregnant. Which wasn t good during chemo. He said we are almost positive there wont be a heart beat as we had created an environment a baby cannot survive in. I had to go in the next day to verify the heart beat or lack of a schedule the removal of what they thought would be a lifeless fetus. To their surprise and mine they found a strong heart beat and that i was 15 weeks along. I am now the proud mama of a heathy little girl. I continued on with my chemo and had my last treatment on 
April 30, 2010, 3 days after my husband deployed to Afghanistan. 

5 months later I had our daughter and a month later started radiation treatment. For me radiation was worse than chemo. The radiation was given to me on my chest and back over some major organs and my esophagus. Causing me to be very weak and tired. Also causing ulcers in my esophagus making it literally impossible to eat of drink anything. This landed me in the hospital several times. Coming home after one for my stays in the hospital during radiation My brother had to help me up the stairs where I had to stop to rest on the landing and sit down at the top to catch my breath before making it into my room. I lay in my bed and thought I was going to die. I was terrified that I was going to die alone that night, never see husband make it home from Afghanistan and leave my children with out a mommy. At that moment I looked inside myself and pulled what little strength I had left out of me and keep living! . But When you have children and those of you who do, know that you don t have a choice but to keep living for them! People always ask how I m so brave and I tell them its not about being brave its about doing what you need to do to win!

I finished my radiation 1 day prior to my husbands homecoming. And I am now in Complete Remission,going on 3 years come March 2014. Ive been living everyday enjoying my son who is now 4, my daughter who is now 3 and my husband. Although I still struggle daily from medical issues that seem to be caused from the chemo and radiation, I ve learned from having cancer, I allowed myself to be a student of life throughout my journey. I challenge you whether you have cancer another sickness, a death in your family, or any other low point in your life to also be a student of life. Look at everything as a lesson. Write a blog or a journal to channel your pain. Surround yourself with those who love you. Share your story with other so they may learn from you and enjoy everything!

Laugh with those you love. Walk barefoot on the beach and dance to the music in 
The grocery store. But most of all never give up!

- Misha Egan"

Previews from Misha's shoot - www.rachelsmithphotography.net

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So happy to have found Thumbtack! I receive requests for quotes from clients in my surrounding areas for their photography needs. It really helps me market to potential clients and have an opportunity to be hired by people who I may not have found had I not joined Thumbtack! If you click below you can view my profile there and even leave me a review if you have had a session with me in the past! Rachel Smith Photography