Photographer Angelo Merendino; The Battle We Didn’t Choose

As I scrolled down Facebook, aimlessly reading some of the status’s from my friends, I stumbled upon a link to an article written about photographer Angelo Merendino.

The title of the article read, ‘This guy’s wife got cancer, so he did something unforgetable. The last three photos destroyed me.’ With a heading like that I found difficult to ignore.

I clicked on the link and scrolled down the page looking at these heartbreaking photographs of Angelo Merendino wife’s battle with cancer.

The black and white tones bring out the sadness and hardship that possess the images. The love this man felt for his wife is demonstrated in the candid shots of them both together.

The simplicity of capturing a few pieces of hair in somebody’s hand speaks volumes, demonstrating one of the devastating effects cancer brings with it.

I had to share these incredible, yet tragic photographs. In the face of such sadness, Angelo Merendino has set up an organisation called The Love You Share which aims to help women with the costing struggles of breast cancer. In order to help spread the word, please share this post or one’s like it and visit Angelo Merendino website.

Here you can find the full set of photographs that tell the story of Angelo and Jennifer’s love and her battle with the horrible disease.

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“Love every morsel of the people in your life.” – Jennifer Merendino

Travel: Final week at camp and the beginning of my American journey.

The last week of camp was tough as I had lots of things to edit and finish up. The slideshow needed to be completed as did the calendar and ODs twice in a row was not pretty. I felt mentally and bodily exhausted from late nights and early breakfasts and yet I still had fun.

I spent most of the final week in the office driving Steve insane with my sudden outbursts of frustration at the computer. I think he will miss it really!

Walking back and forth from Teenside to Mainside suddenly didn’t seem as annoying because I new I wouldn’t be doing it for much longer. I guess I was making the most of hearing the goats and looking out for turtles in the lake.

I have truly enjoyed the experience and I will never forget all the amazing things camp has taught me. It felt like everyday I was facing a new challenge, doing something I never thought I would or simply laughing until tears dribbled down my face.

Yes, the days are long and you sometimes feel like you don’t have a minute to yourself. The food isn’t amazing and you are lucky to go back to your bunk to find no spiders making new homes on your walls, but the friends you make and the place you wake up to every morning definitely makes up for any negative points.

As the bus pulled away and I slowly watched the lake and my friends disappear behind a tree, it was a very bitter sweet moment. Bitter because I was leaving behind friends I may never see again and sweet because I was going to meet friends from home in NYC to explore America.

When I got off the coach on 8th Av and started to drag my luggage along the busy streets and up and down subway stairs, I immediately wanted to arrive at the hostel and see my friends.

When I finally made it, amazed that I managed to find the place with no map, I was relieved to find that the hostel was very clean and newly refurbished. I was then extremely happy to see Josh and Siobhan who were all ready to leave for something to eat.

With no time to relax I quickly changed and we headed towards the Rockerfella. At the top, the views of NY are incredible. I looked over the busy city and couldn’t quite believe where I was standing. The lights of all the surrounding buildings glistened and the sound of the traffic hummed below us.

We chose to go up the Rockerfella as opposed to the iconic Empire Estate Building because we had heard that you could see more of NY at the top. It certainly did not disappoint and I am glad I was able to view such a lively city from above.

We then headed to a roof top bar in Brooklyn. One that Josh and Siobhan had been taken to by a local a few days ago. It was sort of hidden away above a hotel in the middle of a part of Brooklyn that you wouldn’t expect a swanky bar to exist.

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The following day Siobhan, John and I went to explore Central Park. We rented bikes and Siobhan and I thought it would be funny to rent a tandem and it was. We had a blast trying to manoeuvre ourselves around the park without knowing anyone else of their bikes. There were near misses but we survived.

Central park is beautiful in the sunshine, the ducks swim in the ponds and we found a few turtles along the way.

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In the evening we got the subway to the Yankees stadium to watch a game. I am no baseball follower so I had no real understanding of the rules but just the atmosphere and the view of the pitch itself was great. We walked into the staidum all wide eyed and excited which I think is what attracted attention to us.

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A man approached us and asked if we would like to be ungraded to VIP, we politely declined by saying we couldn’t afford it. He quickly mentioned it was free and he would like to offer it us if we simply smile and look happy when a presenter hands over the tickets. Quickly getting excited we agreed to appear on the big screen to accept the VIP tickets. With beaming faces we stood and accepted the tickets, on camera, in the comfort of the air condition VIP area with prime views of the pitch. The whole evening was a whirlwind of excitement, buttery popcorn and cheers from the supportive Yankee fans. What an amazing way to experience an American baseball game.

 

Travel: Camp and New York City

Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday involved similar talks about safety at camp.

On Sunday evening I faced a personal fear! Sleeping in the bunks has been out of my comfort zone and yet I ended up going one step further. I slept outside with only a sleeping bag as protection! I still cannot believe I made it through the night. We firstly hiked up a mountain to get to our camp fire. Once there we laid out our sleeping bags, lit the fire and began eating the hot dogs. As I was sat on my sleeping bag eating the food, huge ants decided to crawl all over me. It was not pleasant and I just sat there wondering how on earth I was going to get to sleep that night. We then played a few games around the camp fire which cheered me up. By the time it went dark I had semi forgotten about the bugs. I couldn’t see them so decided to put it to the back of my mind. Later that evening we began singing songs whilst someone played the guitar. Very cliche, I loved it!! Dan, Ashley and Haneke all started to play with light and slow shutter speeds which was fun.

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The days have been long, hot and tiring, so by the time Tuesday came I was glad to be able to leave camp on my day off.

A group of us signed up for a bus trip to Woodbury Commons outlet. At 10am we all piled onto the Surprise Lake Camp blue bus and headed to the shops. I bought 2 pairs of shorts and 3 t-shirts from American Eagle. I only really bought them because I was running out of clean clothes.

For the remaining few hours at the mall we ended up spending it hopping from shop to shop purely for the air con than out genuine interest in buying anything. The boys, Dan from England and John from Australia, somehow managed to amuse themselves in every shop. I found this impressive as boys usually moan the whole time.

At 4pm we jumped back on the bus and returned to camp. Once back we then crammed into Ashley’s car and headed to Wallmart. John nearly bought Brut as he had ran out of deodorant but luckily I stopped him and he ended up opting for some lime fragrance. It took him a good 10 minutes to decide on which brand to choose. It definitely takes a lot longer to make decisions on what to buy when you are in a foreign country.

After Wallmart we met other people at the Diner before heading to the cinema to see World War Z. If I could have chosen the film, a scary one would not have been it. I wish I could make a critical comment about the movie but seeing as I watched the majority of it through my fingers, I don’t think it would be a fair evaluation. I did find the bits I watched interesting, especially the way it had been filmed. I found a lot of the shots had blurred foregrounds amidst action filled middles and scenic backgrounds. Very visually interesting in that respect.

Needless to say, my day off was a goodun!

The following day, which was the final day of orientation, consisted of more talks…one from the Sherif! He taught us what to do if a mass murderer entered camp. All very serious and slightly scary!

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On Thursday the campers arrived. I spent all morning taking pictures of the kids arriving. The American families have ridiculously huge cars and all the campers, even 6 year olds, seemed to bring enough luggage for a year long trip. I helped one young girl unpack and she excitedly told me she had brought her rug! Meanwhile I am living out of my suitcase and my room still looks like a shed. These campers manage to transform their sheds into full monty houses! It was incredible!

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That evening I suffered from a migraine so ended up going to bed at 5ish. Come 10pm I was woken up by an insane thunderstorm. I could see the flashes and the noises were so loud!

On Friday I taught my first bunch of campers. It was very strange being in charge of a group of people. I don’t know where I got my confidence from but I managed to stand in front of 18 kids, commanding their attention whilst I discussed what I had planned for them over the upcoming month.

That evening I was off from 7.30pm. I had a shower, washed, dried and straightened my hair and felt ten times better after I had finished. I then went to the canteen and relaxed with a group of friends. At 10pm we left camp with Ashley to go to Wallmart. If you haven’t guessed Wallmart is a popular place to go whenever you have time off.

Yesterday was also my day off. At 7.55am I got the bus to Cold Springs station ready to catch the metro into New York City. By 10.30am I was walking down Times Square, amazed by all the tall buildings and the fast pace of the city.

Times Square was mental, so many people heading in all sorts of directions, lots of traffic and weird people dressed in costumes. I had a bit of a field day, taking pictures of everything and anything.

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Escaping the hustle and bustle of Times Square I headed towards the Rockerfella Centre with two friends, Casey from New Zealand and Kerry from America. (The original big group decided to split up as everyone wanted to see different things) It was a great spot to take pictures of different people. The building itself was incredible!

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We then walked to Central Park, by this time it was around 3pm and I was very hot. Avoiding all the men trying to sell us a bikes or horse and cart ride, we headed for a bench and sat and watched people play baseball. Central Park was also very busy with people running, biking and wondering around. It was nice to just sit and watch the world go by.

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We then decided to venture a little further a field so we hopped onto the metro and traveled towards the Manhattan bridge. We walked along long streets, heading towards Chinatown and Little Italy. I really loved wondering through Little Italy. I think on my next trip into the city I would like to return there and have a proper Italian pizza.

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By this time my feet were in a lot of pain but we continued to walk further downtown towards ground zero.

It took a while to get there and I was proud of my map reading skills. Casey and I looked like your typical tourists with our maps and cameras!

Once we got there we realised that you had to book a tour to see the memorial and unfortunately we did not have time. However I did read all the information that was written on the walls. I found it very bizarre knowing that a few years ago two huge buildings used to stand there and over 3000 people were working in them.

I will definitely be returning to see the memorial!

Hungry, hot and tired we then headed back to Grand Central on the subway. I had a slice of pizza for dinner and slept the whole train journey back to Cold Springs station.

My 2nd day off was definitely the highlight of my entire American adventure so far.

Today, I have spent the day hopping from different activities, taking pictures of all the campers having fun. Again it was very hot but I enjoyed the day.