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Husband Showcases Wife's Journey With Cancer

1:42 PM, Apr 11, 2013   |    comments
  • Angelo on the idea of documenting his wife's journey "I didn't really come up with the idea," he told CBSNews.com. "It was more of a necessity."
  • Throughout her battle with cancer, Jennifer and Angelo were very open about their experiences.
  • Throughout her battle with cancer, Jennifer and Angelo were very open about their experiences.
  • "Jennifer was determined to not let cancer determine her life and take over," said Angelo.
  • "There were a lot of thoughts that I had to put away," Angelo said. "I felt that if I went too far with these thoughts, it would get in the way of me taking care of Jen, and all I wanted was to take care of Jen."
  • Jennifer passed away on December 22, 2011.
  • He said that during the entire time Jennifer was battling breast cancer, he knew he had to stay strong for her. They always kept a positive outlook.
  • Sharing the photographs has helped Angelo grieve, and he is thankful for the outpouring of support he has received online.
  • "I know cancer is a heavy theme in these photographs, but to me, the photographs were about life and love more than they were about anything else," he added.
  • Angelo is currently displaying the photographs online and in several art gallery shows. He is also working with an editor to publish a book. "It's making something positive out of a really horrible experience," he said.
  • "It's humbling for people to reach out and share the things that they've shared with me," he said.
  • Angelo hopes that the photographs don't only tell Jennifer's story, but remind people to cherish their loved ones while they can.
  • "I hope people will think many things (about these photographs)," Angelo said. "One, if they know someone who is going through something like this, I hope people will stop for a minute and have a little more patience with each other. I hope the photos put them in (cancer victim's) shoes or their spouses', and they will love each other more and not take for granted that they're together."
  • Angelo had always taken pictures of Jennifer, but began really photographing her struggles after her cancer metastasized to her bones and liver in April 2010.
  • Angelo explained that at the beginning of Jennifer's diagnosis, family and friends were always there. However, when her cancer returned in 2010, the couple noticed that there wasn't as much support as the first time around. They felt it was because people didn't really see and understand how cancer was affecting them.
  • "We didn't know about cancer a few years before this happened to us so we understood its just a lack of knowledge," he explained. "So we weren't mad at people. We felt it was important that people had access to the information."
  • Jennifer was diagnosed with stage 3B breast cancer, which meant it spread to some of her lymph nodes. Doctors removed a few of her lymph nodes, and she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She also went through radiation and other treatments.
  • Over the course of a year and four months, Angelo documented the experience of fighting breast cancer through Jennifer's eyes.
  • The photographs, which at first were only intended for friends and family, were meant to help remind people that Angelo and Jennifer still needed their support.
  • "It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life...just watching Jen floating in the ocean and having fun," Angelo wrote.
  • "People told Jen things like, 'You have to be okay, you just have to stay positive," he said. "We were positive, and Jen was very aggressive in her treatment. It wasn't just a mindset -- it was cancer spreading through her body."
  • ennifer and Angelo traveled to the beach during her treatments one summer. She had been using a walker because her hip had weakened.
  • At first, she thought she was too frail to swim in the water. However, she eventually asked her sister and husband to help her walk in the waves. Finally, she asked them to let go and floated on her own in the ocean.
  • Angelo pointed out the importance of friends and family for someone who has cancer.
  • "You don't have to have the answer," Angelo explained. "Many people say, 'We don't know what to say to you guys or how to act.' They don't need to know what to say or act. They just need need to be there."
    
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In 2008 photographer Angelo Merendino married Jennifer who had been battling with breast cancer. Like most artists Angelo decided to express trials and tragedies in life through his art. He documented Jennifer's battle against breast cancer. The series of photos are titled "The Battle We Didn't Choose." Click through to see Jennifer Merendino's journey with breast cancer. All photos are courtesy of Angelo Merendino.

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