The interesting thing about photography is that the meaning of the image changes over time. We often photograph couples at the beginning of their life together. Wedding photographs, by their very nature, symbolize promise; hopes yet to be fulfilled. Often, only when people look back at pictures years later, do they find additional significance and meaning in them. And usually, we as photographers aren’t around later to hear those stories.
We were recently contacted via facebook regarding a fundraiser for a local musician and actor named Eric Holloway. Eric has been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of Stage IV lung cancer, which has metastasized to his brain. Jeff instantly recognized the name; he photographed Eric’s wedding to wife MaryBeth in 2007. Marybeth was pregnant at the time with their son Blaize, who is now five years old, and big brother to Flynn, 14 months.
For the fundraiser, we donated a family portrait session and a 16×24 canvas wall portrait, hoping that bids on the portraits would bring in some much needed funds for the family. What the Holloways received was something much more precious: fundraiser attendees unanimously decided NOT to bid on the portrait session, so that the Holloway family could use it instead.
In August, the Holloway family received devastating news: despite Eric’s previous treatments, lesions returned in his brain, and a new round of aggressive chemotherapy would be required. We scheduled a weekend for the Holloway family to come visit the beach and take home lasting memories in the form of photographs. These portraits were taken last month, just before the chemotherapy took his hair.
When Marybeth and Eric came in to view their images, it was clear that they were already seeing the significance these photos would later have: Eric is young, healthy-looking, full of vigor (and hair!). Eric and Marybeth in love, in front of a beautiful sunset. Eric holding Flynn’s hand as Flynn toddles through the wet beach sand. Eric and Blaize, spinning through the shallow surf; all worries and cares a world away. The Holloway family enjoying an autumn day at the beach.
Battling a disease like cancer is not just hard for the patient. The whole family endures heartache and hardship. It’s our hope that these images will help uplift the family as they battle Eric’s cancer together. We also want to share the family’s story with you: our friends and readers.
There are several ways to help the Holloway family. A fundraising benefit has been set up at https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/6141. We also had the great fortune of scheduling their session on a day with one of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve seen all year. This image, titled “Sunset for Eric”, was created that day in honor of Holloway family, and we have placed it for sale online. Click here to purchase. Prints are available in two sizes, and will be delivered mounted and unwatermarked. All proceeds from print sales will be donated to the Holloway family.
Editor’s note: Since these portraits were taken, Eric was recently admitted to the hospital with several complications and a worsening of his condition. Marybeth posted the following update on her facebook page:
It is with great dread I continue with this update. Just received the news back from Eric’s scans, there has been growth in multiple areas of neck, chest, and abdomen of the cancer. We will now begin research for trials and determine this next chapter of the journey. We are both saddened at this news and are hoping to summon the strength to carry on. The uncertainty looms large……but every day is a triumph if we end it together. Xoxo
If you would like to hear updates on Eric’s progress, stay tuned to our blog. Plans are in the works for Eric to use his musical talents to create a Christmas CD, and we’ll keep you posted. Friends of the family may also hear updates on Marybeth’s facebook page.
Update, February 15, 2014: As of November 2013, Eric has developed new lesions in his brain, as well as cancer in his chest and bone marrow. Trial drugs that he had been taking are no longer working. He has been admitted to the hospital to help manage his pain, and he expects to begin whole brain radiation and chemotherapy soon.
Update, February 23, 2014: It is with a heavy heart that we write our final update on Eric. Today, Eric lost his battle with brain cancer. MaryBeth’s facebook status says it best:
At 11:55am, Eric, my husband and father [to] our boys burst into heaven ready to play music for the king. He is cancer free now and soaring with the angels.
While Eric’s fight is over, his family has a long road ahead. Friends and family are invited to http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/thehollowayfamily. Additionally, “Sunset for Eric” will remain available for purchase indefinitely.
About his battle with cancer, Eric had this to say. These are his own words, borrowed from one of his facebook status updates:
I am so thankful for all of you over these past 2 years. It was exhausting, sometimes uncomfortable, educating but rarely boring. Take advantage of the time you have, it’s not always the other guy. Love you all so much.