A Story of Courage
Lifestyle Family Sessions hold a special place in my heart. As a Lifestyle Family Photographer, I love to capture the deep connections that families have for one another. Each Lifestyle Family Session tells a different story, which is why they are so unique. On Dec 7th, I was blessed to capture memories for a family that has a personal and unique story to tell.
Meet the Yank family! Lauren and Damien have two daughters, Stella (8) and Lilly (4) and a boy Grayson (11). They have been through a lot over the years. During Lauren’s five month ultrasound, they found out that their daughter Lilly’s had a rare heart defect. They were transferred to one of the best Children’s Hospitals in St. Louis where they spent many hours visiting the Fetal Care Institute along with a team of cardiologists.
On February 25th, 2015 Lilly was born. She was rushed to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital where Lauren and Damien were educated on Lilly’s rare diagnosis of Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. Over the past four years, Lilly has undergone five open heart surgeries as well as a procedure to help get rid fluid around her lungs. She has endured x-rays, ekgs, chest tubes, long intubations, withdrawal and so much more.
When I first met Lilly, I would have never expected this little girl went through all that she did at just four years old. Her smile and energy is contagious! She is like any other four year old. She loves the beach, ice skating, dancing and playing with her Barbies. During our session together, I was made aware that she has a beautiful beauty mark on her chest. Her beauty mark tells the story of all that she has been through and will continue to go through, as she has many obstacles to overcome.
While Lilly was Cardinal Glennon Childrens Hospital, she was given one bead (a bead of courage) for everything she would accomplish on a daily basis. Some beads symbolize surgery while others symbolize a dressing change, all hurdles in their own way. These beads represent a small accumulation of her story. They were not collected from early stays as you can only imagine how many would be on this wall.
Lauren – “ We feel extremely blessed and know Lilly was given to us not only to love and enjoy but to also push our family to do for others in a way we never imagined. There is no cure or quick fix for Lilly. We are not certain where her story will go from here or what her future holds and neither are her phenomenal surgeons and doctors, but we do know she has already made such a positive impact on this world and will continue to do so today! She is a true blessing!”
“Lilly is an ambassador for Cardinal Glennon as well as Children’s Miracle Network. This has been an absolute honor for Lilly and our entire family. We were blessed she was chosen to represent the many children fighting their own battles within and outside of hospital walls.”
I had so much fun at their session. I captured memories of them decorating cookies, throwing marshmallows, having pillow fights and laughing…oh the laughing! They will leave with memories that can be passed down for years to come. I will never fully understand all that Lilly and her family have been through, but I am blessed to have been their story teller and I would be honored to be yours!