Mom’s chemo treatments double as inspiring photo shoots
A New York mom fighting cancer turned her weekly chemo treatments into magical photo shoots she posts on Instagram. When Karen Walsh was told her cancer had spread from her colon to her liver and lymph nodes, she decided to make something positive out the long, typically annoying chemotherapy appointments.
“I actually really don’t like getting my photo taken normally,” Walsh told TODAY. “I do love taking photos and documenting things through photography. I was also scared and I think that prompted me to want documentation for my children, just in case, as dark as that may sound.” The mother of two refused to let the daunting battle of fighting stage four cancer keep her spirit down. “It was and continues to be a great diversion for me while sitting in an infusion center. It’s fun. Time passes quickly.”
To create the whimsical pictures she drew inspiration from her favorite films and plays. Walsh’s infectious positivity has prompted friends, family, and even the medical staff at Weill Cornell Medical Center’s to dress up with her. “Everyone has been pretty excited about it,” she said. “There’s actually a sign-up sheet that’s usually a couple of months out. Some even ‘guiltily’ tell me they look forward to seeing the next photo, which I love.” They’ve covered “The Breakfast Club,” “Star Wars,” and “Rocky” among many more as Walsh nears her twenty-third chemo treatment.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or who has a family member or friend go through chemo will tell you that staying positive is an important part of the process. It’s also crucial to find an outlet for the perfectly normal emotions that come with fighting for your life. “I think it’s imperative to let it out and not have the anxiety, anger, and fear sit inside of you. But it’s generally not my tendency to sit and stew in anything for too long,” Walsh shared.
As a mom, she wanted to make sure that the photos showed “forward motion, joy or strength,” when her kids looked at them. “Female empowerment is something I want my children to see as well. I haven’t a clue what my future looks like, though I do like to invite people to my 90th birthday party in the Virgin Islands,” she said. “I want to leave an imprint that encourages them to envision a world I dream of for them.”
Cancer can be confusing, terrifying, and emotionally draining, but the photo shoots are helping Walsh and her kids focus on something fun. “My daughter enjoys the costumes and seeing the final product,” she explained. “My son is nearly 3. He calls my infusions a ‘little red bird’ and has a quizzical look on his face when I walk into the living room with a pink wig. So…I think he’s fine with it?”
And her family is giving her the strength she needs to make it through the chemo. “I still have days when I want to cry,” the mom shared. “Thankfully, I have a great support system. My husband and parents are rock stars.”