Last year a bunch of photographers decided to participate in the Help Portrait project. In short: a photographer takes a picture and provides a print (or two) without any charge for time or material for someone he or she believes is in need. The “rules” also stipulate that the photographer is not to write about it or add the images to a portfolio, but I asked for and got the parents’ permission to write a blog post about this, because to me this is such a special situation (I’m sure everyone participating will say that about their project).
So… My “project”…
It’s always a bit tricky to ask something like this from someone in your direct circle of friends, especially in a case where the “need” is so hard to define, so at first I wasn’t sure if I should ask Max’s parents at all if I could do it. But they thought it a nice idea, except the timing wasn’t all too good.
Max is probably one of the bravest little fellows you’ll ever meet. He’s a, now, 5-year old boy who was diagnosed with a malign, inoperable brain tumor a few months before we decided to participate in Help Portrait.
The shock for us was already significant. Someone so young being faced with such an unfair, harsh future. You can imagine (or actually I doubt if anyone can who hasn’t been through it themselves) what impact this must’ve had, and still has, on Max’s parents and sister and environment.
Around the time I asked Max’s parents how they felt about me doing this Max was in the middle of his radio treatments. He was sick, nauseous and exhausted all the time and didn’t at all look like himself because of all the medication, so we agreed to postpone the whole thing until Max was feeling a bit better.
A lot of things have happened since, and even though the medical world is kind of helpless in this case, Max has been doing relatively ok, and I had the privilege to be invited to his 5th birthday party just last weekend. He was looking fabulous, and if you wouldn’t know something was wrong, you wouldn’t have been able to tell. He was just like any other 5-year old, playing, laughing, running around…
It’s hard to know and accept that that’s basically the only thing I am able to do for them, when there’s so much more you wish you could do.
The only other thing I can say is Respect, with a capital R, for Max and his parents and sister.
Max had another MRI yesterday to see what’s going on in his head right now, and if you have a spare moment, I’d like you to send your prayers, good Karma, positive energy to Max and his family.
It’s the only thing we can do to help.
If you’re interested in following Max and his family or if you personally want to leave them a few words of support, you can sign up for the Facebook group Miracle Max: http://www.facebook.com/robert.gerritsen#!/group.php?gid=159940013092