Tessa was the first kid I had the pleasure of photographing at Family House. To be honest, I wasn't sure how it would go. I had never photographed anyone who was sick before and didn't want to push her too hard. I remember first meeting Tessa and just being in awe of her personality at such a young age. She is as sweet as can be and has this spark in her. She is truly amazing, and I'm a better person for knowing her.
Tessa jumped around our whole session and was laughing up a storm. There were so many times when I felt myself tear up because this little girl has more energy than I do! She has such a love for life that it's so heartwarming to witness. When our session was over and we were saying our see you laters, Tessa put blue and purple owl stickers on my camera along with a rainbow sticker. Every single session since Tessa, the owls are the first thing that kids notice, the make owl sounds and it instantly puts them at ease and makes them laugh. I can't help but think those owls have special Tessa magic in them that makes everyone happy. At the time of this post, Tessa is 4 years old and was diagnosed with Pre B-cell ALL Leukemia at 3 years old.
You have no choice but to deal with it. The leukemia was found because of a low iron test at her 3 year well child check up. Her pediatrician ordered some blood tests and within two hours I received a phone call urging us to bring Tessa to our local emergency room. She was immediately flown to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital and chemotherapy started the next day. Tessa spent the first month in the hospital. During that time you run off pure adrenaline and shock. We dropped everything and depended on family and friends to handle things at home so we could support Tessa.
-Erica, Tessa's mom
Leukemia treatment for children is long, lasting over 2 years. The first six months were the hardest. Tessa suffered many side effects. Nausea, lethargy, and joint and muscle aches. She had horribly painful mouth ulcers and of course hair loss. But through all of it she kept a smile in her face. When Tessa's hair began to fall out her dad and I shaved our heads with her. At first she was hesitant but after seeing mommy and daddy without hair she felt much more comfortable.
Staying positive has made a huge difference for all of us. We still have a little over a year left of treatment, but I do believe the worst is behind us. Tessa has restarted pre-school and is enjoying seeing her friends daily.
My advice would be to remember to take it one day at a time and to not be afraid to ask for help. Throughout our journey we have met the most amazing, kind and loving people and organizations. Without them I don't know that we would have survived. We are so thankful for each and every one of them. Go Team Tessa!