Today, we’re proud to introduce you to photographer Angelo Merendino. In 2008, Angelo’s wife Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer, and as the two battled against the disease, Angelo began capturing and sharing their journey on his blog.
The Readers.com family has admired Angelo’s work since we were first introduced to the inspiring story. We were honored to speak with him recently about his wife, his photography, and his new book, The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer. Read on for our exclusive interview with Angelo:
Angelo, you say the photographs in The Battle We Didn’t Choose capture the most “personal and intense” time of your and Jennifer’s life together. Why share them?
Angelo: I think it is important to share our experiences. Jennifer and I often felt alone and so very different from everyone else. People didn’t understand what we were going through. How could they if they had never been in our shoes? Hopefully by sharing our story, people will at least have something to look at if they want to know what a loved one with breast cancer is facing.
What was Jennifer’s reaction when you told her you wanted to photograph your day-to-day lives together during this challenging time?
Angelo: Jen trusted me. She knew that first and foremost I was taking care of her and making photographs came second. Jen was very open and comfortable, and at this point she was so focused on taking care of herself and surviving that the camera became just another part of our life.
Did you take your camera everywhere? How did you know when you would have the opportunity to capture life’s most touching moments?
Angelo: I always had my camera with me, and I just tried to make photographs of the things that moved me.
What will readers/viewers really see in these images? Did you ever hold back?
Angelo: I hope people will see love and life, but I can only show what it is that I feel. The rest is up to the person looking at the photographs. I wouldn’t say that I either held back or pushed in any particular direction. I just tried to put the story together the way I remember it happening.
How do you think your readers/viewers will be affected by these images?
Angelo: I hope that our story encourages dialogue, whether between groups of people or between two people who are facing a similar challenge.
What would Jennifer want your readers/viewers to know about her battle or about fighting cancer?
Angelo: Jen used to say, “Love every morsel of the people in your life.” I think Jen would want people to love and be there for each other.
Now that you’ve released this remarkable photo book, what’s next?
Angelo: That’s a good question. I’d like to continue sharing our story, as long as people want to hear it. I will be exhibiting a selection of my photographs at The Cleveland Print Room this September and will try to arrange for the exhibition to travel.
I have started a nonprofit organization in Jennifer’s honor. The mission of The Love You Share is to provide financial assistance to cancer patients in need while they are receiving treatment for cancer. The hope is that by sending a gift card from a local grocery delivery service and reimbursing patients for transportation costs to and from hospital and doctor appointments, The Love You Share will be able to make life easier, even if only for a short time, for someone who is fighting for her life. I’m waiting on hopeful approval from the IRS for nonprofit status.
I’d also like to take some time and just exist. Aside from taking care of Jennifer, putting this book together has been the biggest challenge in my life. I’m not sure what the next direction is in my life, but I’m doing my best to let go and believe that I’ll end up on my feet.
Thanks again to Angelo for taking the time to talk with us. You can learn more about Angelo and Jennifer’s story, and purchase The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer on his website.