“Today, I am happy…”

October 30, 2014

A few weeks ago, an email dropped into my inbox that has stuck with me ever since. It read:

Dear Raul,

Today, I feel satisfied and fulfilled…at least for today because I have her application in hand…filled out, signed and faxed.

She is 16 and just found out her leukemia is back. She got the news today that we will try again…with the chemo that makes her vomit and makes her look different than the other kids and with the shots that hurt…again. And that it may not work…

But she smiled with us because she has been wanting for many weeks to sign up for the photography class that we have been talking about. Today we finally got all the details worked out…

The fact that she is homeless won’t matter because we have come up with a plan for transportation from wherever she is living that day…

The fact that she may be really sick soon doesn’t matter because we discussed how we can come to her hospital bed with the lessons…

The fact that she is bald doesn’t matter because lots of the other kids are, too…

The fact that she is very quiet and introspective doesn’t matter because she will have her own voice with her own camera…

The fact that there will be an art gallery showing with her work in it is a dream that she may never have realized any other way…

So…she smiled…which we have rarely seen…and it lit up the room! Today, I am happy.

Marcy Powell, RN
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital
Tacoma, WA

The program that she was referring to, of course, is Pablove Shutterbugs.

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit our photography class in Tacoma. During my visit, I was able to witness, first-hand, the impact that Pablove Shutterbugs is making in communities across the nation. On the morning of class, as I was making my way towards the Museum of Glass where class was to take place, I found myself walking across the famous Chihuly Bridge.

Chihuly Bridge
I stopped for a moment to stare up at the magnificent glass sculptures hanging above me. As I stood there, all that came to mind was the email that I had received from Marcy. I could already imagine the amazing student photographs to come from such an artful and creative classroom location. I knew then that this class would be an awesome experience in the lives of our students. I was reminded about the profound difference that our program is making in the lives of these families affected by cancer—-right now—-in multiple communities across the country.

Watching the kids in our Tacoma class solidified, for me, the reasons why I choose to work for The Pablove Foundation. We give our students a camera, teach them photography fundamentals and just say “GO!”

Go be artists, go be photographers, go and capture the world through your own lens and show us what you see.

Pablove in Tacoma

The student Marcy mentioned is just one of 14 currently enrolled in our Tacoma class. They all come from different walks of life and are all met with the same stupid disease. Their lives, and their families’ lives, are rattled in the chaos and rollercoaster that is cancer. Focusing on photography helps students regain a sense of control and normalcy. We are putting a sense of power back into their hands.

In class, I got to see their faces light up for perhaps the very first time in a long time. Although the program is a brief distraction in a complicated journey, the intent of Pablove Shutterbugs is simple. In this classroom, they are not patients, they are not cancer riddled, they are not “in treatment.”

They are artists. They are creative voices. They are kids just being kids.

Kids just being kids

I know that this story from our community in Tacoma is not uncommon. Through our partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s Community Impact Project, Pablove is able to provide the Pablove Shutterbugs photography program to 12 new national expansion sites with very similar stories and needs. Bringing this kind of artistic joy and hope back into the lives of families nationwide is why we exist. This is why we do what we do. This what it means to fight childhood cancer with love.

– Raul Lorenzana, Pablove Shutterbugs Program Manager

Want to read more?

Read Zuly and Antonella’s story – “Finding Normal Through a Camera Lens
Learn how you can support Pablove Shutterbugs – “25 Ways to Pablove


5 responses to ““Today, I am happy…””

  1. Pablove Eva says:

    What a powerful story, Raul. So happy to be serving the Tacoma community! Great photos.

  2. Naveen Viswanatha says:

    Truly amazing stuff Raul – Thanks for sharing and for all the amazing stuff you and the rest of the P<3 do!

  3. Gregory Tapler says:

    Thank you Raul for this story and for your experience. Thank you for the countless hours you put into this program. To gift a child with a smile is to change the world through joy, love and hope. Magnificent.

  4. Kelly Safley says:

    Thank you Pablove Shutterbugs! I’m so happy you have come to Tacoma. My daughter Hanna is the cover picture on your blog article! The pure delight and joy in her expression brought me to tears. You have helped to lightened the load in this long journey through stupid cancer for her. The talented volunteers and wonderful curriculum have made the experience just fantastic. Hanna missed the first class because she was in the hospital, but you were there to catch her up and get her ready. She played with her camera all that next week. She has been able to attend each class since at the coolest location of the Museum of Glass. We are so thankful for this great organization and volunteers. Hanna’s expression says it all!

  5. Mary W. Hammond says:

    Excellent article (and program), but . . . “infamous” Chihuly Bridge? I hope you didn’t mean that about our beautiful pedestrian approach to the Museum of Glass!

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