An Atlanta couple’s courageous and tragic battle against brain cancer in the midst of first-time parenthood has been documented in a powerful photo series.
Jenna and Josh Buehler had only been married for a few months and were actually on their honeymoon in Taiwan in March 2015 when Jenna began to notice that her new husband was not quite himself.
Although just 39, he was appearing more tired and forgetful than usual – confused even. They went to a local hospital for testing and were given devastating news: Josh had a brain tumor.
Immediately returning to the States, Josh underwent more testing that eventually revealed the tumor to be cancerous – a glioblastoma.
The shocked couple were told that the first step would be brain surgery, which would subsequently happen within the month of their return at Emory University Hospital Midtown.
On the morning of the surgery, through Josh’s neurosurgeon, the pair met Jennifer Keenan Giliberto, a brain tumor survivor and photographer. She offered to help the newlyweds document their journey.
The series, dubbed This is… shows the couple through both the joyful and devastating parts of what was to follow.
With an aspiration of showing how a devastating cancer diagnosis affects both the patient and their families, Jennifer found kindred spirits in the couple.
‘[Josh and Jenna] felt as strongly as I did about opening the door, pulling the curtains back and exposing the viewer to the entirety of the brain cancer experience,’ Jennifer told Today.
Even though the surgery removed 90 percent of the tumor, parts of it ran through areas of the brain where surgery would have a high risk of paralysis. Josh began radiation and chemotherapy soon after.
The couple went about their lives, enjoying their newlywed status and sharing in the treatments and new struggles presented by Josh’s ongoing battle. They even went about undergoing IVF in order to conceive a child.
In January 2016, to the couple’s delight, Jenna became pregnant. But then in June they were informed that the cancer was back in force.
This time, they were told there was nothing more that they could do. There weren’t even any clinical trials or experimental treatments to bring them hope. It was the worst possible news for the soon-to-be parents.
Josh made it to the birth of their daughter Reilly in September, but he had deteriorated so much that he attended the birth groggy from medication in his own hospital bed in the delivery room.
The new father passed away on November 6, 2016 at age 41.
Jenna has released the photo series of their journey together in hopes that it will lead to more awareness and encourage there to be more treatments and clinical trials.
She said: ‘There are a lot of cancers that receive a lot of research, a lot of funding. And somehow, we still don’t have answers to brain cancer. I really hope that Josh’s life makes a difference.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail – Valerie Siebert