I was there when they vowed “In sickness and in health… ’til death do us part.”
One lovely October day in 2012, as Brian and I were photographing a wedding reception, we noticed a super cute couple having an absolute blast on the dance-floor. By the way they were looking at each other, we could tell they were both head over heels for one another. She caught the bouquet. He caught the garter. He walked up to me to show me pictures of his girlfriend on his phone, because he couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. When he introduced her to us, we discovered she had attended the same university as Brian and I, that her last name was Powell as well, and that she was from Pennsylvania just like Brian. About a year later, we got a phone-call from John Craig, asking if Brian could photograph his proposal to Alexandra from inside of a shark tank at the Atlanta Aquarium, lol! The Aquarium wasn’t super thrilled about that idea, but we DID get to photograph their maternity photos when they found out they were expecting their son Johnny, and their wedding a year later! Over the last 4 years, we’ve traded having each other over for dinner too many times to count, and have stayed up way too late on just as many occasions talking around dining room tables. Their son Johnny prays for Avonlea to stay healthy, and Violet thinks Johnny is just the greatest. We don’t clean our houses when we know we’re getting together. We have been known to shop together for the ingredients we will use while cooking and eating together later that evening.
These are friends who truly do life with us, and naturally we were terrified when they called us 3 weeks ago to tell us that John had found a lump under his tongue, and that doctors were concerned. In the past 3 weeks, the mass has more than doubled in size, even with John water-fasting to try and slow the growth of the tumor. One CT scan, two biopsies, an exploratory surgery, two mis-diagnoses and a PET scan later, John and Alexandra finally have an answer.
John has cancer: an NUT Midline Carcinoma, to be exact.
I shed quite a few tears as I watched them receive the diagnosis LIVE on Facebook, on their page The Candid Craigs! The doctor explained to them, on the video, that the specifics of John’s case is one of only about 100 cases in recorded medical history. The statistics for survival are extremely low, and the average survival rate is about 9 months.
A week ago, we got them all dressed up, knowing that surgery, reconstructions and aggressive drugs were likely in their near future, and met up at Landsford Canal for a “My Forever Valentine” emergency mini session! Alexandra and I had been planning a surprise shoot for John for Valentines Day for several weeks before the tumor appeared. But when the word “cancer” began being spoken aloud, we put the pedal to the metal and bumped up their session date. It was emotional session, and the right side of John’s face and jaw were extremely enlarged from the tumor. We posed them purposefully, to hide the swelling in some shots, but highlight the area in others. A few tears may have been shed, but there is so much beauty in the vulnerability these two are so brave enough to share with the world through these images.
And that vulnerability does not stop here. PLEASE go Like and Follow their Facebook page, The Candid Craigs! Watch their story all the way from the beginning. You can also support them financially by donating to their crowd-funding HERE. John and Alexandra own their own business, and will need to take weeks or maybe even months away from work to focus on the aggressive treatment approach doctors are recommending. They have spent the last several weeks evaluating ALL potential treatment options: Cancer Centers of America, holistic facilities in Mexico such as CHIPSA and Oasis of Hope, and have decided that the cancer is just progressing too quickly to waste any more time. John has been admitted to CMC Main for the time being to begin chemo and to allow surgeons there to begin planning a major surgery to remove part of his jaw and rebuild it.
Please support our clients-turned-dear-friends, John and Alexandra (and their 3-year-old son Johnny), by following and sharing their journey on social media, and donating if you can! And lastly, enjoy a few of our favorite images of John and Alexandra.
This shoot has a couple of stories behind it. To start off, 2 days ago, Brian and I were driving along a Fort Mill thoroughfare when my gaze was caught by… an excellent tree. Seriously. This tree was legit. We were running a ton of delivery errands that day to clients and had 3 consults as well, so we ended up passing this tree several times and each time, we just couldn’t get over how awesome it was. Now (story #2), Owen and Heather are wonderful friends of ours, both very talented and passionate about music- they met in the music department at Winthrop, and have a really neat opportunity, during this time in their lives as music students, to perform together and share each others’ passion. So… the same evening we had seen this awesome tree a bunch of times, we went to a launch party for Owen’s new CD, Come On, Heart. As he and Heather sang together at the party, performing a few songs from the album, Brian and I looked at each other and said, “we need to photograph them in front of that tree!” So, we asked them to model and they agreed! Owen and Heather, you guys are so talented, awesome together, and pretty cute too : ) We love you guys!