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© 2019 J. Laaper Studios LLC

About Me

I have always felt photography captured more of life than the written word. When you close your eyes and try to remember a moment, you picture it in your mind you don't see words on a page. So, when our first child was born like most new parents, I purchased a camera to capture every wonderful moment, the first step, first solid food, first birthday etc. I didn't want to miss a thing but soon enough after all the first year firsts were over the camera was put away. Life became busy, and I was lucky to get any sleep.

When our son was born, the camera came out again and pictures were taken his first bath, first solid food and the list goes on. However, there was something different in these photos than the ones of our daughter. It was small and hard to see but there was something there. He had a white dot in the middle of his right eye. Our daughter had beautiful blue eyes and our son's were brown but when he was photographed his one eye would show a white dot. Being the second child, we didn't think much of it. I figured I was doing something wrong with the camera, but we made a doctor's appointment just in case. The following six months were a nightmare.

That morning, we thought the appointment would be quick, so we planned to have lunch and finish some last minute Christmas shopping. The doctor examined our son and then abruptly left the room to return a few minutes later with paperwork in hand. All she had to say was the word "well" and we knew something was wrong. He had Retinoblastoma. Our beautiful six month old son had a tumor in his right eye. The rest of the day was a blur followed by 3 days of disbelief, panic, and heartbreak. Three days before Christmas, the camera that was meant to capture all of his firsts captured his first CAT scan, first surgery, first port, and first chemotherapy all before his first Christmas. I never thought the camera I bought to capture my children's wonderful life moments would be instrumental in saving my son's life. 

Retinoblastoma is a rare form of cancer that rapidly develops in the retina. It is normally found in children under the age of 5. Most cases are discovered in photographs. The camera's flash bounces off the tumor and reflects back white in photos. Since we saw the white reflection early in the development of the tumor we were able to stop its growth while saving his eye and some of his sight. 

Our son is now a healthy 9-year old boy who loves soccer and life. I still try to capture as many first as possible but now I focused on capturing more of the simple everyday moments that  make up life.