Inspiring Photo Series Shows Dad With Cancer Meeting Newborn

Nothing stands in the way family.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Sep 2016
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Photo: Sarah Boccolucci Photography

Labor isn’t something you want to go through alone. There’s a good chance you’ll turn to your partner for support through every contraction. Just three weeks before her due date, Jessica Li learned this likely wouldn’t be an option for her. Her fiance, Cagney Wenk, was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer after three days of headaches prompted him to go see a doctor.

Wenk underwent biopsies and quickly began radiation and chemotherapy. He was already in the ICU at Colorado’s Boulder Community Hospital recovering from a craniotomy—a procedure in which part of the skull is temporarily removed to relieve pressure—when Li went into labor. Because Li was delivering in the same hospital, Wenk’s nurses decided he was strong enough to attend the delivery. And they came up with a special way to document it.

Wenk’s nurses contacted Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a service that provides free, professional remembrance portraits to families who experience a stillbirth or face the risk of losing their baby. Although this family’s case was different—baby Levon was born perfectly healthy—a local birth photographer Sarah Boccolucci was quick to respond to the request, offering to record the birth on video as well.

“I’ve been a birth photographer since 2009 and I have been a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep for about four years, and while this is not a typical request, I was honored to be able to serve the family,” Boccolucci tells The Bump. She shared the photos and video on her blog, adding, “Boulder Community Hospital did an amazing job helping the family be together for the birth. The work of the labor and delivery [team], ICU nurse, doula and OB was nothing short of inspiring.”

The family remains hopeful, and Wenk will wrap up treatment in a little over a month. Take a look at the touching birth photos below. If you would like to donate to their fundraising campaign, click here.

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