Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Sandy Clarke Photography, LLC photo has been published!

This picture is a snapshot of the UPS employee website. Employees from all over the US will see this announcement. I am so glad to have the opportunity to be apart of this! Very exciting news!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Client Spotlight: Lexi N.

All of my clients mean the world to me, each and every single one of them. Every client has a story to tell and many times I'm blessed enough to hear about those stories and in the meantime, capture them. This is a story that I wanted to share with everyone.

I received this email from this mommy and I had to stop more than a few times to wipe the tears from my eyes. Just preparing you...

Sandy, I cannot tell you how excited I am to get pictures taken by you this weekend. Every time I look at ones you have taken I get a little more excited. I love how each one always seems to have a little story and that's what I would like with mine and Lexi's. I always love to get them taken, but with these, they will be even more special to me than any taken before. These will be the first ones since Lexi's deathly illness/surgery. And we are bringing a special friend to have them taken with us, Lexi's 'Willow Bear.' July 11th Lexi woke up and we did our usual morning routine with her eating breakfast and watching some Mickey while I got ready for work. My mom happened to be on vacation so she was eating with her and when I came back to the kitchen she asked if I had seen Lexi's neck. A large mass had grown literally over night under her chin. After a trip to the pediatrician, he thought maybe she had cat scratch fever b/c it will come on fast in the lymph nodes. blood tests were ordered and she was put on antibiotics. Unfortunately when the tests came back, they were negative along with a few smaller illnesses that had been tested with the 5 tubes of blood taken from my daughter and more tests were ordered. Once again nothing and he started to get worried b/c other than the lymph node, she had no symptoms. At first, I was relieved she was in no pain, running no fever, and seemed to have no other problems. However, when she was sent to an ear,nose, throat specialist who was completely stumped, this momma started to panic. She was put on more antibiotics which didn't even touch the lymph node. In fact, it had grown. The specialist was worried and ordered a CT Scan and we went to St Marys to have this done. After 2 weeks of waiting, that too came back normal. Just showing a growth under Lexi's chin. Doctor's were worried and we were referred to Riley in Indy. We were suppose to wait a month, but after the doctor's saw her blood tests, scans, etc. they wanted her the very next day. By this point Lexi was extremely ill. She had gone from being my crazy, hyper story-telling two year old, to sleeping constantly, in pain and not letting anyone look or touch her neck, always running a fever, never wanting to be put down, pale, and losing weight at a very fast rate. Not to mention terrified of doctors and making the visits even harder than normal. We went to Riley and after hours of poking and prodding, the doctor grabbed my hand, sat down and told me "that things looked grave. We think it's lymphoma." I crumbled. It had always been in the back of my mind but I had kept trying to stay positive and now I was hearing the worst news. I thought my baby was going to die. The doctors did an immediate biopsy b/c they wanted to start treatment immediately and even did the tests right there in the hallway outside of the exam room to get immediate answers. 6 doctors came back in and PRAISE THE LORD, it was not lymphoma. It was a very bad bacteria. No antibiotics had been able to kill it and it was still active. They would have to remove her lymph node. A date was scheduled, but after one week it had grown even more and Lexi was in extreme and vomiting so I called the doctor and we had surgery the very next day. It was suppose to be a quick surgery with a small incision just to remove the lymph node. It ended up being 4 hrs, and during that time no one came out to tell me what was going on. Finally, after the longest 4 hrs of waiting of my life, the surgeon came out to tell us she was in recovery, but things weren't so simple inside. The bacteria had spread. When they cut the skin infection immediately came pouring out and they had to let that drain for 20 min before they would even reach her lymph node. As they removed it, more infection poured out and more draining had to be done. They then realized a second lymph node was infected, which was directly behind a nerve to her lower lip. They had to remove that while being extremely careful not to hit, move, or damage the nerve. Also, the bacteria had started to kill the skin on top of the lymph nodes. It had turned red over the few mths, and what they originally thought was just stretching from the mass turned into her skin dying and had to be removed or it would continue to kill the skin along her neck and face. Luckily after everything was removed, she was great!!! The infection was gone, no other lymph nodes were infected and she ended up moving her lips as soon as she saw me which meant no nerve damage and she would still be able to use her lip. Weeks later, tests still came up with nothing. They knew it was a bacteria, but no exact one came up. We were left with not many answers. No reason on why she got it, what caused, or if she could get it again. But just the relief of knowing she was healthy again was good enough for me. However, the doc did say, if we hadn't done surgery as soon as we did, it most likely would have spread to all of her lymph nodes, continued to kill her skin, and would have eventually taken my daughter from me. At the beginning of the whole process, a co-worker of my mom's who had a daughter extremely ill when she was Lexi's age, who had to go through similiar tests of her own, went to build-a-bear and got her a bear dressed as a nurse for Lexi to have anytime Momma couldn't go back with her during her scary moments. Named Willow Bear after her daughter Willow. She told us, each time Willow had to have a test she took a special bear with her that kept her calm, and they wanted Lexi to have something too. That bear went everywhere! Each doctor's visit, in the car on days Lex didn't feel good, in the bed with us, during surgery. That bear helped not only Lexi to feel more calm, but me also knowing she had something soothing her when I couldn't. So for our pictures I would like to bring Willow Bear. She helped us get through 3 scary months and represents a memory of how lucky I am to still have my daughter, my fighter with me today. I just thought I'd share our story and let you know our "prop" I was bringing so you would understand just how special Saturday will be for me. =) 

I told you! What an amazing story this precious 3 year old will be able to tell one day? And those moments where it seems like I'm always reiterating "love on your loved ones because you just never know", this mommy lived that moment. Thankfully it ended for the better and was given a second chance. Those days where we get so frustrated with our little ones (or our big ones), aggrivated, annoyed, upset. See, this mommy experiences that too. But the difference between this mommy and myself is she lived through knowing "don't take another second for granted, and for that reason, I was able to live through the lens and really truly capture the raw emotion and feelings between the two of them. It was unreal, I'm serious. This little girl was so incredibly happy. And the laughs, the smiles, the hugs, and teasing, I was so moved during this session. 

This little precious girl, at age 3, has experienced so much more than I have already in life. And because of the support and love of her family, especially her mother, I truly feel she's going to grow up into an incredibly strong woman. All because a love of a mother.