Brighter Side of Darkness

As a swimmer and underwater photographer, I spent the first few months of my pregnancy planning an underwater self portrait — but life doesn’t always follow a plan. Instead I got this photograph of myself bald and oddly happy, wearing a prayer shawl made for me by a local church group of kind strangers. This image marks the day I was able to stand again. Five months into my pregnancy, debilitating sciatic pain led my husband and I to the ER where I was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I had a tumor wrapping around my sciatic nerve and boring a hole into my pelvic bone. At the same time that the best and lightest parts of me were growing within me in the form of my son, I fed and nurtured a fetus of my own shadow. These two masses — one of light and one of darkness — were side by side, and on November 21, 2005, they were the same size. My chemotherapy treatment began immediately and we were reassured that my son, Finn, would be just fine. I soon recognized that I had been given a second chance to live right, in that cancer gave me a reason to skip out on the activities I had been a slave to. From that moment on, my tumor shrank and my son grew. I took a beating that year, but I learned to walk in a new way, and today, mother and son are both healthy and happy.

Photographer: Heather Perry

Heather is an underwater photographer, swimmer, painter, wife, and mother who lives, works, and dreams in Bath, Maine. #wwsstories

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