by Sarah Hoffman
They missed it. She had an eight-pound tumor on her kidney and they missed it. Shelia Burnett of New Franklin, Mo. was diagnosed with stage IV Renal cell carcinoma in May of 2011. Recently her cancer reoccurred in her liver and is no longer curable. Burnett is preparing her family for her death. “There’s a lot of times I ask myself why am I having to go through this? I don’t know why I am going through this other than making my daughter a stronger person.” said Burnett. Burnett’s daughter Lauren Burnett, 17, has stepped up to help her mother with chores at home and at their family business Boggs Auto Salvage and Sale.
According to a study by Kathryn E. Weaver, assistant professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, rural cancer survivors reported more psychological distress, were more likely to be in fair or poor heath and unable to work because of a health condition than urban cancer survivors.
Burnett fears burdening her family with her emotion and she wishes there were more resources and support groups for people living in rural areas. “That’s part of a rural community we don’t have the resources a big city would have so you learn to use your family.”
by Ellen Thommesen
My grandparents always held hands. Even into their 70s, they reminded me of newlyweds, excited to show each other affection any chance they got.
Arch Leean, my grandfather, was studying abroad when he proposed to Mary through a letter. As soon as she read it she hopped on a boat to England to spend the rest of her life with him. They got married with their cab driver as the witness.
Married life was full of adventure. They lived in England, traveled Europe on a scooter, moved to New York City then to California where their two daughters were born. They finally settled as a family in Northfield, Minnesota where Arch was an art professor and Mary was a foreign student administrator at St. Olaf College. Settled in but always traveling, they frequently went on study abroad trips with students to places like Thailand and the Middle East. Camping trips, road trips, backpacking trips, you name it, the Leean family did it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better example of love than my grandparents. They were happily married for 56 years, completely devoted until death parted them.
Arch’s health began deteriorating in his late 70s, and he was diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. After a 3-year battle with the disease, he passed away in April, 2011. Mary served as his primary caregiver in order to keep him at home with her in the dream house they built for their retirement.
After a lifetime of companionship, love, and raising a family together, Mary is left alone. She has transformed from a wife into a widow.
The loss of her husband has not been easy, and the transition into widower has been a difficult one. She notices that people speak to her in softer tones and often treat her differently now that she is alone. Many offer advice for how she should cope with her loss. Even though she acknowledges they are telling her what would help them in the situation, she believes grief is very personal. Everyone experiences it differently.
Mary chooses to embrace sadness when it comes and relish in the good memories of her life with Arch. She loves telling stories about him to my younger brother and I every time we see her. She feels blessed to have had so much time with such a great man and will continue the healing process with the help of family and friends.
Long before diabetes hit the headlines, it hit home for me. Diabetes runs in my family. My uncle never really acknowledged his diabetes or tried to manage it. Diagnosed in his early 20′s, Richard Esparza later died, age 42, due to complications related to his type 2 diabetes. Years later, in 2006 my sister would also become a diabetic.
Diet and exercise are often the first recommendations made by doctors to their diabetic patients. Such a simple solution though is easier said than done. For many it requires a dramatic lifestyle change. Today, diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, with minority groups making up the largest portion of the newly diagnosed.
I have seen those I love s truggle to accept and manage this lifelong disease. My goal was to put a face to the statistics. This project documents the life of one young man, Demarko Fisher, who lives with Type 2 diabetes.
To see more of Vivian’s work, go to her Web site: www.vivianesparza.com
I came to produce this video after finding out about two very close friends of mine who had been affected by sexual violence within the last few years. The information turned my world upside down as I felt ignorantly naïve to the issue. After interviewing an amazing photo subject for a different project I learned that she too had been raped. After leaving the interview I passed the place where one friend had been staying, then passed by the other friend’s apartment. All three women were within a ¼ mile of each other. Immediately the skills my photojournalism degree has taught me were summoned. This project is the result.
By Sally Morrow
Sierra Williams and Micheal Duckworth live with their mother Samatha Stevenson and her fiancé DeWayne Foston Sr. along Route BB in St. James, Missouri. As siblings, Sierra and Micheal share daily life and look out for one another. Under one roof, brother and sister grow as individuals and grow closer together.
This story was produced in conjunction with the Missouri Photo Workshop
To see more of Sally Morrow’s work, go to her Web site: www.smorrowphotoj.com
Angela and Rob had two beautiful kids, a steady income and a house in the suburbs when they realized – they may be living the American dream, but it wasn’t their dream. Without a concrete plan and only their instincts and values as a guide, they sold the house in the subdivision and bought a neglected farm.
To see more of Anthony Castellano’s work, go to his Web site: www.anthonycastellano.com
Reverend Doctor Michael L. Dixon is the pastor and spiritual leader at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Centralia, Missouri. Rev. Dixon preaches to a small congregation of 30 African-Americans and is the 19th pastor to lead the church.*Click the picture to see flash presentation about Rev. Dixon and the Mount Olive Baptist Church
For over 60 years the Missouri Photo Workshop strives to teach the core principles behind visual storytelling to photojournalists. During the 60th Missouri Photo Workshop in St. James, Missouri, we gathered the stellar faculty of industry professionals to ask them all the same question that lies at the heart of what the Workshop tries to teach, “What is the Story?” Watch this video to see their take on the heart of what does–and does not–make good visual storytelling.