Angelo Merendino started his blog The Battle We Didn’t Choose in honor of his late wife Jennifer, and her battle with breast cancer. The blog shares the beauty and heartbreak of her journey, and the intimate ups and downs of Angelo’s life after.
Jennifer, lovingly referred to by Angelo as Jen, was diagnosed just five months after they were married. Jen endured chronic pain, extended hospital visits and many meetings with insurance companies over four years before passing at age 40.
Reading Angelo’s blog entries, you can’t help but be drawn into their world. Angelo gives cancer a tender voice and most importantly, a loving face. Angelo photographed every moment of Jen’s journey — the good, the bad and the painful.
“I started making these photographs a few months after Jen’s cancer metastasized, which was in April of 2010. We noticed that most people didn’t understand what we were facing and our support group was fading away… Our hope was that if people saw what we were dealing with every day then maybe they would have a better understanding of our challenges in our life.”
The love captured in his blog seems unfathomable. Yet Angelo and Jen’s story is not meant to be heartbreaking, but encouraging — “our story is about life, love and hope – much more so than loss and death.”
Jen’s story lives on, not simply because of her circumstances, but because of the joy she shared while here. Although Angelo’s life will never be the same without Jen, he can give purpose to her absence.
“Seeing our story grow into something beautiful that is helping others has been one of the threads that has kept me together since Jen passed. I still feel numb, I have felt this way since Jen was diagnosed in 2008, but each day gets a little better.”
Angelo has written a book about Jen’s life, featuring his heart-stirring photos. The book, released on September 1st, marks their 6th wedding anniversary. It is now available on iTunes and PDF.
“I hope people see the love in our book. I know it is hard to see these photographs because it puts mortality right in our face. But I really believe that accepting mortality is the first step to really embracing life… Ultimately, I feel like this book is a love letter from me to Jen. If someone hugs her or his spouse a little tighter after reading our book, or if someone realizes how important it is to be with a loved one who is in a rough spot, then that’s one more wonderful thing that came from Jennifer and the life she lived.”
RYOT NOTE: Angelo promised Jen that he would share her story, but he did much more than that — Angelo created The Love You Share, a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide financial assistance to women in need while receiving breast cancer treatment. Half the proceeds of Angelo’s book sales will be going to The Love You Share. Click the gray box to purchase Angelo’s book, support The Love You Share and Become the News!