Ordinary people do extraordinary things. That's what I've realized about people who deal with chronic disease everyday. My son is one of my heroes. So is this lady.
My friend Lloyda Bristol encouraged me when we found out that our son has cystic fibrosis. You see, she fights pulmonary fibrosis everyday, similar in many ways to the lung disease that results from cystic fibrosis. Like us, she faces a daily regimen of medication and treatments to keep going. As a widow, she is the only one at home to take care of her two girls and be a support to her older son.
Unfortunately, pulmonary fibrosis has nearly destroyed the tissues in her lung, and she has been placed on the lung transplant list at Emory. When I found out about this, I knew I wanted to do some portraits with her and her family. We met at a mutual friend's house and spent a couple hours talking, shooting, comparing medication (I am really interested in that now!) and getting to know each other better.
I think my favorite part of the night--besides taking the photos--was learning about Lloyda's cooking heritage. She said she would sit in the kitchen and listen to her mother and grandmother tell stories while they cooked. Now, she cooks the same way, making traditional dishes from Guyana without measuring or using traditional tools. Someone asked for a recipe and tried it, but admitted, "There was something missing." "Of course there was," Lloyda said, remembering. "What was missing was my hands."
I'd hate to think of those hands missing for anything longer than the six weeks she will have to spend in the hospital. Lloyda is currently fund-raising to pay for the transplant expenses, copays, and post-surgery treatment she will need in the near future. If you are touched by these photos, please donate to her transplant fund. Think of it as a valentine to this wonderful woman. She's definitely worth it.