March 29, 2010

Time to give back - Help me, help them - Benefit for Sarah O'Gwinn


I have a dear friend named Sarah (she's been on this blog before) who lives just up the street from me. We don't see each other often as we'd like as we both are super busy with various aspects of life. However, when Weston was in the hospital Sarah was calling me daily to bring us dinners, offered babysitting, and anything else to help. At the time, I was really overwhelmed and completley appreciative and utterly blown away at her generosity as she was the one who stepped up out of nowhere for us in our time of need.

Fast forward to when Weston is home and well. I found out that all the while when Sarah was coming to my house with dinners and various offers of help, she herself was the most in need, not us.

How you ask, well here is Sarah's story...

Sarah had cancer for the first time at age 19. At that time tumors had engulfed her stomach. Doctors removed her stomach and the cancer was gone. We thought everything was fine. Sarah is now 34, married with two children. It is a miracle she is even alive. Three and a half years ago her cancer came back. She wrote this after finding out about the cancer for the second time:

“I have Cancer. I am 31 years old. I have a beautiful baby girl. I have a husband, his name is Andy. I love him so much. I have cancer, but it doesn’t have me. I have a family to raise, a husband to love. I am so young. I want more children. I want to live until I’m 95 years old. I have dreams and desires. I have purpose.

At times I have been afraid, but only for moments. I pray to my Heavenly Father and ask him for guidance, for strength, for life. I feel like it is not my time to go. I do not want to die. I am not ready. This cancer has reminded me how precious life is, how short, how important, and what is important; i.e. family, friends, faith, God, country, human life, people. We are surrounded by so many… Do we serve them, do I? I will. I promised Heavenly Father the day we went into the E.R. The day I thought I had a pinched nerve on my left shoulder, while I was waiting in the x-ray room, I knew something was wrong and I started bargaining.

When we were told I had Cancer in my abdominal wall, fatty tissue, next to that wall, liver, spleen, left ovary and left kidney. We thought it was a death sentence. Andy and I sobbed in each others arms. Andy called family. There were a lot of tears. Blessings were given, prayers were said. I do not remember what was said, but miracles proceeded that night. I do not think it was an accident I went into the E.R. I think it was because God wanted me to live, and learn something or help someone.”

Sarah is living proof that miracles exist. After her first battle with cancer doctors were unsure if she would be able to carry children, if nutritionally she could support a child. She was able to have Ella, when Ella was five months old Sarah was diagnosed a second time. Sarah did traditional chemotherapy, lost her hair- which was the least of her worries. Her initial doctor told her to go home and make herself comfortable. The end was near. There was nothing left to do. Sarah and Andy felt that was not good enough. They went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Here they found new doctors. Amazingly the doctor that specialized in Sarah’s type of cancer had recently moved to SLC from Texas. Sarah began a new cutting edge cancer treatment, chemo every day. And it proved to be successful. Sarah and Andy finally had hope and were working towards recovery.

In the spring of 2008 when going in for a regular CT scan, doctors were shocked to see a baby. Doctors had previously told Sarah she was sterile because of all the medication she was on. She would not have more children. Sarah’s doctors recommended they get an abortion. Sarah and Andy did not feel that was the path to take. Noah was born in October of 2008 a healthy baby boy. After all the exposure to medication and to toxic chemotherapy drugs, Noah shows no signs of trauma. He is now a healthy 18 month old.

Most recently Sarah went in for a PET scan. The results have shown the cancer is metabolically active, a smoldering fire, tumors have grown again. When asking doctors what others have done in her situation the response was “There is no one in your situation, others who have had your type of cancer have not lived this long.”

The future is uncertain. But with all the uncertainty, Sarah finds strength, faith and hope in God.

Sarah’s life is a miracle, she has touched many people. Sarah could be your friend, your neighbor, your sister, your mother, your wife. We are working on raising funds to help Sarah fight this cancer.


So, here is what I want to do for my dear friend Sarah.

From NOW UNTIL JUNE any and all family portrait sessions will be donated to Sarah's treatments. Also, a special proofing site will be set up where all reprint orders totals will go to her as well. If we reach the goal of $10k raised, every family who participates in the benefit will receive a 5x7 disc from their shoot ($900 value).

You can view my family portrait pricing online HERE.

And if you are wondering what my family sessions look like, take a big gander HERE.

Again, all proceeds from all of the family shoots booked will go directly to Sarah for her treatments in battling this cancer.
All checks must be made out to "Sarah O'Gwin" and all prints will be ordered from this specific proofing site:

I hope I can say thank you to Sarah for being there for me through this offering of my time and talents. It literally meant the world to us at the time when Sarah was there for my family.

If you want to book a session, please email me @


Can't do the benefit and want to donate directly? You can do so HERE.

***A HUGE thank you to Instaproofs for sponsoring this benefit. If you are looking for a solution for your proofing, they are IT. End of story :).


Unknown said...

We can't do family pics right now, but would love to donate to Sarah and her family...but the link isn't working... are amazing!

Jonathan Canlas said...

link fixed.

and kim, if you want, email me a time you want to do them and we'll get this benefit started right!

Jonathan Canlas said...

ps, for folks out of state, i am willing to fly to you and do sessions as long as we have 4 families lined up, AND the travel fee is split between the 4 families.

email me for details!

Holly Reed said...

Jon you are an amazingly good friend. I'll talk to the hubbs and see if we can get a session.

Bonnie said...

I don't have the words to say how I feel. You really are amazing! Thank you!

LuckyRedHen said...

Goosebumps. Lots. All over.

brittany said...

Wow, I don't know you or Sarah and her family, but Sarah sounds incredibly strong; and what you are doing for her and her family is so amazing.

Marisa said...

Sarah is a dear friend of mine... just wanted to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart. I truly thank you!

Beth S said...

What you are doing for you friend is wonderful. I'm in Canada so no portraits her but I have followed your link and made a direct donation. I watch my mother fight cancer and win. My father fight cancer and I lost him. Tell her to keep up the fight. We are pulling for her.