Portraits and Stories

As a 2006 cancer survivor myself, I wanted to encourage others. Photographing others was a start. They also wrote their own thoughts, suggestions, and stories you can read on their page.

Here are the images, with my comments, these survivors inspired me to create:


Removable Breasts – Chris from Iowa
Chris told me about a poster she saw at one of her doctor appointments that inspired her. It was of a woman who had had a mascetormy who was beautiful and vibrant. That poster assured Chris that she too would be fine. That image inspired Chris to want to share with other women-that it will be alright.

Before I knew Chris was a breast cancer survivor, twice, I had photographed her previously for her new business cards for her Geriatric Care Management practice. I did not stop to contemplate that some women have reconstruction surgury and some opt not to. When she mentioned her prosthesis at the photo session, I was a bit confused as I had not thought about that and I certainly couldn’t tell the difference in her regular clothes.

We thought images like this would tell an inspriational story, as she too is a quite beautiful and vibrant woman!

Master Photographer Barb Gordon, www.GordonPhotography.Biz

Flower PowerFlower Power – Karen from Iowa, Survivor April 1998.
I got to know Karen when she did some temp work at the studio. I knew she her favorite hobby was photography so this was the perfect way to photograph her. Her favorite places to visit are arboretums to photograph flowers. The wild background image was a photo she took while I was photographing her. She was not really trying to get an image but I loved the wild, abstract look of it so I asked her to send me the file.

“This experience has taught me: I can not always be in control. I have to let go and let God.”

Master Photographer Barb Gordon, www.GordonPhotography.Biz



Cancer Saved Her Life
When I talked to Stacey on the phone for the first time she said, “I am glad I got cancer for the second time.” I was amazed and wanted to know more. During our consultation she shared a lot of her history with me. I will paraphrase: “Cancer was my saving grace because it helped me make a huge decision in my life I would not have made otherwise.” Stacey, who accepted Jesus at 14, had two ex-husbands both who were abusive. “I look at myself now as a person with self-worth.” She also shared that she had not seen her immediate family for 30 years as she alienated herself from them by the relationship she was in. Her family is her biggest supporter; they have welcomed her home with open, loving arms. She has found freedom to stand up for herself.

“The Lord has laid out a path for me, one that I am following faithfully, with every ounce of pride in me. Cancer has been Jesus’ way of saving me, and I’ll let it shine for all to see.” –Stacey RC (Munchkin) 4/11/09

Kelsey Smart of The Art of Smart did complimentary makeup for Stacey so we could spoil her! Learn more about Kelsey at www.KelseySmart.com

Master Photographer Barb Gordon, www.GordonPhotography.Biz


Tango Dancer – Rosemary Survivor July 2008

“This is the day the Lord has made, let me live it to the fullest.”

What a fun image this was to do! I started by studying one of Rosemary’s Argentine Tango DVDs before the photo session. Her dance partner, Dwight, explained to me that a man’s job in dance is to showcase the woman. He did just that for this photo shoot! Can you feel the music?

Master Photographer Barb Gordon www.GordonPhotography.Biz

Rosemary-outdoor “Let’s Chat Awhile” – Rosemary Survivor July 2008

Rosemary came out to my farm to be photographed in wild flowers, since I learned at our first meeting that she likes flowers and plants.

She even brought a green umbrella for one of the images I had in mind. What a helpful subject! We had the morning newspaper and a hat, but our favorite image was this delightful, approachable expression. It says to me, “Sit down, let’s chat awhile.”

For the full effect I had my husband make us some coffee for Rosemary’s mug which she color coordinated for me with her clothing. Even though you can not actuallly see it in any of the images, it tasted great. He had selected Kona coffee that we bought on our trip to Hawaii.

Master Photographer Barb Gordon, www.GordonPhotography.Biz

I am here for you today and everyday.
– Barb and her friend Mary.

When I met Barb for our initial consultation, she shared about her friend Mary that went to all of the appointments she could with her. I knew I had to photograph them together.

This part of the session was full of mixed emotions. I felt so much I can not put into words so I am glad the images themselves can tell that story.

P&S-Barb-fabric Radiant Glow – Barb from Iowa, Survivor October 2008
This was Barb’s favorite image. When we first met she told me she would like a feminine look and I think we accomplished that well!

Barb is such a delightful, energetic person. As my first cancer patient subject to photograph for this project, I found out very quickly that I want to more work like this.

This image will be on display at Hall Radiation Center to showcase the Portraits and Stories project.

Master Photographer Barb Gordon,www.GordonPhotography.Biz

Why Me?
P&S-BG-thumb-cameraI would have to admit when I was diagnosed with a cancerous breast tumor, the typical question “Why Me?” was not one of my questions. I wanted to know so many other things like how it happens, what did I eat, how was I going to get through it, and how much time off work this would take.

One day (in 2009), I got a call at the photography studio right when I walked in the door. I was not even open for business that day, so I was not going to even answer the phone. I had my day all planned, a friend of mine was on her way to work on a special project with me all day, and I was dressed very casually to go ride horses after that. I grabbed the phone by instinct anyway.

The nice lady asked if I could photograph someone that day. I hesitated. I didn’t want to. I had other plans. I don’t work that way…last minute …without a plan…anyway, I need a consultation first to plan clothing. After some information gathering questions to find out why she needed such a rush without sounding like I was hesitating or going to turn her down, she finally told me her son had cancer. She went on to explain he didn’t feel very well but she happened to have him in the car at the moment. That is when it all clicked, and I said, “I am a cancer survivor too, you called the right person, bring him right over.”

Those who know me well know I am not great at spur of the moment. I like my plan, my schedule, and it is difficult for me to switch gears. But God did something great that day and kept me from messing up this unusual phone inquiry.
Portrait of Jeff Hasara
When they arrived I met 15 year old Jeff. He recently broke an arm that lead doctors to discover a shoulder tumor. It is possible that he will lose an arm. He had had two chemo treatments and was not feeling well, but he was a trooper, and I made the photo session quick. I asked his mom how she happened to call me. She said she just picked someone in Marion. I think it was a divine appointment I had asked God for earlier in the week.

After they left to face the uncertainty of their day, I told my friend, who was gracious enough to wait for me, with honored tears in my eyes, “This is why I am here.”

I answered the call. God kept me quiet. He let me fill a family’s need. He had prepared me for this.

I may not have ever asked the question. But now I do know the answer to “Why me?”

Follow Jeff’s story at http://pullingforjeff.wordpress.com/

Barb Gordon, www.GordonPhotography.Biz (Portraits & Stories photographer)

October 5, 2009 at 2:37 pm
Hi Barb,
I’m Jeff’s grandmother. I want to thank you for your story and the beautiful picture of Jeff. My husband and I have 35 grandchildren. Jeff is one of our 19 grandsons. Jeff has been an inspiration to our whole family. His arm was amputated on September 23rd. I will always cherish this Photo and your story. Thank you for touching our lives in this way.
Marilyn Hill
2010 An Update of Jeff

I met Jeff and his family last year (2009), the first image in the collage below was from that last minute photo session. You can read about that first meeting above in the section called “Why Me?” Jeff was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. I have recently photographed his family and we updated Jeff’s photo with all his gorgeous curls! Jeff was tired and struggling but what an outstanding young man he is. The letter he wrote to share with us all is so moving, inspirational and such a gift. It is an honor to be the Hasara’s family photographer.

June 11, 2010 – a letter from Jeff:

Family and Friends,

My condition has worsened considerably. On about May 29 the tumor pain started to increase and became constant. On the first of June I had my IV injection port removed and spent the next several days in bed with pain on both sides. I thought I would regain strength. Over the next week my tumor (that had not grown since the blessing in March) has now tripled in size. Cancer is truly overtaking my body.

Why are we on this earth? To be tried and tested so we may come to know God and we may be found worthy to return to live with him someday. Our faith is tried so it may be strengthened. God allows us to be tested that we may more fully come to know him.

Don’t worry or be afraid for me. Pray I might know God. I don’t believe anything could test my physical, mental, or spiritual endurance more than the experience I am facing now. But now is not the time to worry about the outcome of whether I live or die. Now is the time to praise God, to petition to see his face and know him better.

Over the last several days my tumor has grown to the point I can’t be upright and support the weight without great pain. I can only be up for about 5 minutes at a time. The rest of the time I must be in a laying position. I have been planning and looking forward to a trip to Utah since the first of the year. I have felt this trip was important not only for my enjoyment but to witness to my many cousins, aunts, uncles and family how much God has done for me.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer I was approved by the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ to receive a wish. I was told to wish for anything and to think BIG. Over the next several weeks I had fun with friends and family thinking up bigger and bigger wishes. It always surprised me how small people’s imagination was. I could not believe a thousand dollar shopping spree (or the like) was the biggest wish many of my friends could come up with.

A couple of nights ago I was praying to Father in Heaven and asking to please just let me go to Utah and have some pain free time with my family camping and enjoying life. Then whatever Gods wants I am ready. As I closed the prayer my mother pointed out to me I was not thinking big enough. Like my friends and ‘Make a Wish’ I was asking for a simple shopping spree when God stands ready to fulfill my greatest desires.

I have been tried and tested and stand firm in my faith, willing to submit to all things. What would you give to see God and know for sure you will live again through him. After you have given all, would you be afraid or forget to ask to know God? It is time for me to ask that I might receive.

My prayers have been very different the last two days. And I have received some direction from God. First, I was told if the mormon pioneers could cross the plains with their sick I certainly can find my way to Utah this summer to share my testimony personally with my family. I believe this to be important and God will provide the way.

Second, God told me again I am to live. I will leave that in his hands. After all, who would not give their life to see God’s face and know he lives. Yes, I am thinking big and know what ever God grants will strengthen my faith and help me to stand firm in the Gospel for the rest of my life. More importantly, I know I have a mission to fulfill as his special witness to Jesus Christ to bring others home to our Heavenly Father.

God lives and loves us,

Jeff Hasara

Rush Limbaugh and a Final Update on Jeff Hasara
Jeff Hasara passed away on Monday, August 16, 2010, at the age of 16 from Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer.

From the Gazette Obituary information about Jeff: Jeffrey was born November 24, 1993 in Okinawa, Japan, the son of Mark and Valerie Hill Hasara. He was a sophomore at Linn-Mar High School. He loved longboarding, surfing by the ocean and being with his friends. Jeffrey was tenderhearted and was more interested in helping his friends than doing his school work. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he was active in his church and a strong believer in his God. Jeffrey was also active in Boy Scouts. His favorite thing was spending time with his family. He was a great friend and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Hesara-62-copy-300x199Jeff and his parents are friends with Rush Limbaugh. Jeff’s mom sent me a link to Rush’s broadcast about Jeff and his family. It is really a wonderful tribute titled “Our Prayers for the Hasara Family”.
One of the photos I did of Jeff is on the blog post.

So the Lord prepared me in many ways to be involved in these people’s lives. I was honored and touched by this wonderful family!

By appointment only:

Gordon Photography & Gallery, Inc.
at Lost Creek Farm


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