-- Karen Walsh, a 40-year-old actress and mom of two, spends anywhere from two to five hours every other week undergoing chemotherapy sessions for the stage 4 colon cancer she was diagnosed with last September.
Instead of just wasting that time away, the New York City woman and her family and friends have turned the chemo sessions into as much fun as possible by staging elaborately themed photo shoots.
“A friend who is a director and choreographer came to visit, and I said, ‘You have to take a picture,’ and he said, ‘Well, if we’re going to take a picture we have to make it fun,’” Walsh recalled of how the photo shoots began. “From then on, I said to friends, 'If you come can you bring some props?'"
“It became something that people started pitching ideas to me for different photo shoots,” said Walsh, who posts the photos on Instagram.
Walsh, the mom of a 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, has undergone 22 chemotherapy sessions so far for her inoperable cancer. She said the photo shoots have been healing for her and helpful for friends who want to help but often don’t know how.
“Everyone wants to do something and sometimes it’s very hard to figure out how to answer that question,” Walsh said. “I’ve had trouble accepting all the generosity and my social worker said a gift I can give other people is giving them a task, something specific that they can do to help put some order into the chaos."
“And for me, I need and thrive on community and needed to be around friends and family so I wasn’t sitting around by myself in a room for four or five hours watching TV,” she added.
Walsh said the doctors and nurses at the New York hospital where she is being treated have gotten into the spirit, too, often taking the group’s photos and encouraging her to share the photos to help spread cheer to other cancer patients too.
“It’s fun as far as cancer goes,” said Walsh, who has set a goal to celebrate her 90th birthday in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “But let’s be clear, I would rather not be doing this.”