Tell your Story – Couples (Kristi and Mike)

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I want to share with you another couple who have truly overcome massive trials in the course of their relationship. Kristi shares Mike's kidney transplant story.

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold.  They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.  – Barbara Bloom

I first met Kristi about a month after I arrived in Toronto. She is a very warm and open person, and I am in awe of the strength that she and Mike have together.
I have asked them to share a little bit about themselves and their story.

Couples portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

When I first met Mike, the man I affectionately refer to as ‘The Major’, it was as if we had always been together.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that he was what was missing in my life.

Our first date spanned fourteen hours, two cities, in two cars, two restaurants, a coffee shop and a walk through High Park, and it set the tone for our entire relationship in one go — still roaming to this day.

Our bond has only been made stronger through the circumstances we’ve endured together.

Portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell
Portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

Mike and I started dating during a very crucial time in his life where he was beginning the final chapter of a harrowed medical saga.
Eight months earlier he had started dialysis and was awaiting a kidney from his father. 

Couples portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

 He had been sick for the majority of his life with a rare type of vasculitis that attacked the blood vessels in his organs. 
Luckily, the illness had been (and still remains) in remission for over a decade, but the damage was done, most notably in his kidneys which ultimately lead to end-stage renal disease. 

Every step of progress in his battle was met with some form of devastating setback that anyone else would have succumbed to.  But not our Major. 
He fought through his dark days armed with his signature wit, optimism and sheer determination to live, knowing that he was one step closer to a healthy future.

Couples portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

I am so inspired by and attracted to everything about Mike that there was absolutely never a question of whether or not I would stand by him during transplant and recovery…or the two subsequent surgeries.  
I’d follow him anywhere, really. 

He has taught me a lot about strength and positivity, and I could only hope to one day be half the person he is.  
I feel very fortunate to have been there for him each step of the way, and to have him there for me. 
It was a life-altering experience for us both, which taught us we could overcome any obstacle together.

Couples portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

This session commemorates The Major’s strength, our love, mutual support and the beginning of a long future together.
I prefer to think that, now that you have a back-story, the photos are more about Mike — exactly one year after the transplant that saved his life, and about a month after two reparative surgeries.

The photos that shine the most in the set are his solo portraits: battle-worn, but victorious.  But most of all: he’s healthy.

Portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell
Portrait session to commemorate the first anniversary of a kidney transplant by Vancouver contemporary portrait photographer Angela McConnell

The Major and I enjoyed our experience with Angela so much that we plan on enlisting her again to photograph us for our third anniversary and the second anniversary of his transplant (which are within four days of each other).  We even hope to make it an annual tradition!

Going through what we have gone through, seeing just how fragile life can be — how quickly it can change — gives impetus to the importance of photo-documenting the milestones in your life.  It’s definitely a worthwhile investment when you see the finished product from a professional like Angela.

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