Husband documents caregiving journey for wife with cancer to make others feel less alone

It was Anna Rathkopf's 37th birthday when she felt a lump in her breast. Two weeks later, she heard the news that she could never have imagined. The mother of a then two-year-old son, Jesse, had triple positive first-stage breast cancer.
"I felt the earth open up and I'm in free fall right now," said Rathkopf.
Anna and her husband Jordan faced a daunting new reality, including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
Jordan would be Anna's supervisor.
VIDEO: How to Support Nurses Who Support Cancer Sufferers (ABCNews.com)
"Nurses can provide hands-on support, help with day-to-day work, prepare meals, drive to appointments," Susan Brown, a former oncology nurse and now Senior Director of Health Information and Publications for Susan G. Komen, told Good Morning America. "Providing emotional support may be a little trickier, but in reality it just means being there, being quiet, listening, holding hands ... reassuring the survivor that you love them for who they are and not for." what he does or what he looks like. "
But Jordan said he often fought and felt powerless trying to support his wife while keeping life stable for their son.
"I was very scared," said Jordan. "We asked the social worker if there was a support group and they thought we mean it for her and I said, 'No, no, for me.'"
"It can be very helpful to speak to friends, professionals, or others who have had this experience or have a similar experience," said Brown. "But the best way for caregivers to care for a loved one is to take care of themselves because if they don't, they run the risk of becoming exhausted or even unforgiving over time."
To regain strength, Jordan, a professional photographer, used his camera to tell a story they believed had never been told before. As he put it, "We couldn't find anything like it from a young family with cancer."
These images were eventually compiled into a moving photo essay and part of the Komen blog.
The raw pictures reflected the ups and downs of the Rathkopf family. Whether snapshots of snow angels, sincere moments while cuddling with Jesse or that day when Anna decided to shave her head, nothing was forbidden.
PHOTO: After Anna Rathkopf was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 37, her husband Jordan Rathkopf, a professional photographer, documented her journey in a series of stunning photos to show the reality of nursing. (Jordan and Anna Rathkopf)
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PHOTO: After Anna Rathkopf was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 37, her husband Jordan Rathkopf, a professional photographer, documented her journey in a series of stunning photos to show the reality of nursing. (Jordan and Anna Rathkopf)
More
PHOTO: After Anna Rathkopf was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 37, her husband Jordan Rathkopf, a professional photographer, documented her journey in a series of stunning photos to show the reality of nursing. (Jordan and Anna Rathkopf)
More
Your photos captured hope and sorrow. Anna said it helped her family emotionally, but now she's trying to connect with the woman before she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The Rathkopfs hope that their pictures will raise awareness of the cancer path among patients and their carers.
PHOTO: After Anna Rathkopf was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 37, her husband Jordan Rathkopf, a professional photographer, documented her journey in a series of stunning photos to show the reality of nursing. (Jordan and Anna Rathkopf)
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"I think what helped me get through this was admitting that I needed help," said Jordan. “I was literally hanging by a thread. I just went into my heart and cried for hours because I didn't want anyone else to see me. When I started going to therapy and medication, I felt like I was actually in a better place to take care of my family because I could take better care of myself. "
Research shows that, according to the National Cancer Institute, 50% of cancer carers reported experiencing high levels of emotional stress and 43% said they needed help dealing with it.
Now Anna has no signs of illness and is in complete remission. She'll be taking tamoxifen daily through 2028 to lower the risk of the cancer coming back, Jordan wrote on his blog.
"It has changed the direction of our lives," said Jordan. "It brought us together. It just cemented everything we knew was there."
Husband documents the care journey for a woman with cancer to make others feel less alone, originally published on goodmorningamerica.com

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