For Rita

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It has been a long time since I began writing about Rita’s Journey.  So much has happened since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.  I began to tell her story just before she started her treatments.

I have been so blessed to be a part of her life, to be her friend and to be able to photograph Rita and her family over the years.  Our first shoot was a family photo session with her husband, Jeff, her son, Jack, and their two dogs.

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The second photo session was to begin her journey as she negotiated the treatments for her breast cancer.  We decided to photograph her journey so prior to her first chemo session, we went to the train station in Denton, Texas armed with a piece of 50’s luggage and a 50’s hat box to prepare her for her journey.  I began telling this story in this very blog.  In fact, you can go back and read the details starting in 2012..

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 I photographed Rita as she was losing her hair from chemo at the third session we did.  She had her hair stylist come and shave it all off.  There were lots of us there supporting her and celebrating her strength.

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The fourth journey session was done at a local park.  Those images became more poignant and touching as we set up each shot.

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Session 5 was her last day of chemotherapy and Session 6 was her last day of radiation.  Each time her husband came with flowers and her friends came with balloons and goodies to celebrate yet another milestone in her journey.  We were all so excited as she finished up her breast cancer treatments and her MRI’s came back clear.

The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!
The celebration at the chemo clinic. Rita did it!

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The seventh session that we did was planned after Rita found that she had cancer once again.  It was not the spread of her breast cancer but rather a new cancer.  This time is was in her brain.  I found Rita to be amazing yet again in how she accepted that she had a new cancer, and how her faith held her up to face the next surgery and treatments.  I had been talking to Rita about doing a “sophisticated woman” session with her prior to her finding out about her latest cancer.  She called me and said “if you want a sophisticated shoot with me, let’s do it before I have to have brain surgery.”  So, we set it up and it was a grand day.  Not only did it take both of our minds off of her impending surgery but it was the most fun shoot that I had had in a long time.  We laughed, talked and celebrated the beautiful woman that she is.  After Rita’s second cancer, she changed her hairstyle completely.  Instead of long colored hair, she opted for short, slightly spikey natural colored hair.  She was getting such compliments on it as her hair grew back, that she kept it short.  It looks fabulous and very sophisticated.  It definitely made the “sophisticated woman” session even better.  At the time, I didn’t know that it would be the last session prior to her decline in health.

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I have done only one session since then.  It was just a short time ago and it  wasn’t a session at all. Her husband planned a surprise birthday party for her and I was invited.  Naturally I showed up with my camera so I could take candid shots of her family and friends who came.  There were so many people that we were all spilled out across the yard and there was no parking close to her house.  Her mother, brothers, sisters and other family members were there along with some of her husband’s family.  It was a fun party and Rita had a wonderful time.  Some of her friends from outside the local area flew in for the surprise.

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 I visited my dear friend, Rita yesterday.  It is the latest of several visits I have made recently as Rita prepares to leave us to spend eternity with God whom she loves so much.  She has battled breast cancer twice and won.  The last several months she has been in the biggest battle of all fighting brain cancer.  She has had brain surgery, radiation and chemotherapy to battle this difficult cancer.  Each time she received a cancer diagnoses, she has met the new challenge with determination and faith in a God who loves her.  She has shared Him with everyone she could along the way.  She knows that although this battle is going to be lost, that God has a better plan for her. She has completed what He wanted for her to accomplish here on earth and now He is calling her home.  Those of us who will be left will miss her greatly.  We will have deep sadness but also a joy in knowing she is no longer struggling, or suffering and that she is celebrating in a place where there is no pain, or sadness but only joy.

You have made each of our lives a whole lot better, Rita.  You’ve made us laugh, lifted us up, shared yourself in so many ways and, yes, taken charge a bunch of times.  You are loved, Rita.

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Author: Gloria McDonald

I am a Certified Professional Photographer. I am both a portrait and commercial photographic artist. Wild Mane Photography is my company which began in 2004. I love photographing women of all ages, black and white images, drama with a little glamour added and commercial product images..

15 thoughts on “For Rita”

  1. Thanks Gloria. Wonderful piece. Wonderful subject, too. Such wonderful pictures and remembrances you have made.

    I wrote her a tribute and read it to her the day before the party. (I had other plans for that night before I found out about the party.) I have attached my remembrance for you to enjoy. Love to you,

    Deanna Martin In His Majesty’s Service | |

  2. Gloria, you have returned Rita’s gift of friendship it over and over again. Rita is a powerhouse and your photos are a wonderful tribute to her joy for life.

  3. Your photos and friendship mean so much to Rita. She told me several times how proud she was of the pictures – she said she had never felt so beautiful ! We know that she is, and always has been, beautiful – inside and out. It was a pleasure getting to visit with you at the birthday party. Rita will always remain with us through her spirit and your incredible photographs. I truly believe that God is gathering his very BEST . . . .

    1. Thank you so much, Susan. I enjoyed talking to you, too. Rita is a part of so many of us. She knows so many people and I am so touched to be able to read others wonderful comments about her. We each have our own niche in her life so sharing with each other gives us a chance to meet so many others who are her friends.

  4. I’ve known Rita since elementary school and have never forgotten her smile. That’s what always stood out: her bright eyes and her smile. Having been a beast cancer survivor and having had a double mastectomy within the past year, my heart cries for her and her family. But God is good and loves us. She is a precious gift to all who knew her. I send her my love.

  5. Rita I continue to pray for a miracle, your journey has been courageous, you’re a testament to a strong tenacious woman . I am sorry you have had to endure this however your faith and courage give us the will to fight our battles. You look beautiful as always and never show the pain that you’re having to endure. I am blessed to call you a friend and you will always be in my heart along with all our other classmates who look to you as a leader of faith and courage!

    Your friend always

    Danny Gonzalez

  6. What a lovely story. I met Rita when I lived in Krum when She opened her house for a bible study. I’ve followed her journey via Facebook. She is an amazing woman and I pray for her & her family. Peace to you Rita &to those who love you.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing the journey of our dear friend Rita with the world. I know the Lord will use her journey to reach others for the Kingdom. Rita has always been a strong, loving, godly friend. I will miss her and I know the Lord will welcome her home with open arms. And the Lord said, well done, My good and faithful servant. Matt 25:21

  8. Rita is wonderful woman, her courage strength and faith have brought her and her family through rough times. She has been a blessing and I love her!!

  9. Rita you will be dearly missed. May you rest in peace. You were such an inspiration to all of us. Love you. Until we see each other again my friend.

  10. It is with a very heavy heart that I send my condolences for all of Rita’s loving family. She touched many hearts and had the very best of friends. There was a down to earth attitude that I will always respect. I know she is in heaven and that her love still lives in our hearts, sweet angel, Rita ❤

  11.   Gloria, these photos and your dialog has been beautiful, but painful, knowing she is out of our reach for now.   We know th

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