Memories Of A Lifetime With All My Love

By Cassie Gibbons

“When you become a parent, it changes everything. All of a sudden there’s this living being that needs you, it really puts everything into perspective,” says Myriam Farah-Cobb, a local Ottawa/Gatineau photographer. She glances and smiles at her young child playing with toy robots next to her at their breakfast table at The Green Door restaurant in Old Ottawa East.

Last year, along with fellow local photographer and young mother, Melanie Mathieu, Farah-Cobb launched ‘With All My Love,’ a photography business offering free family photography sessions to local parents who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Myriam Farah-Cobb(L) and Melanie Mathieu, partners in With All My Love, are preserving treasured memories for families throughout Ottawa. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

Myriam Farah-Cobb(L) and Melanie Mathieu, partners in With All My Love, are preserving treasured memories for families throughout Ottawa. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

“We’re both mothers and photographers, so we wanted to give back using those experiences,” she says of her inspiration to start ‘With All My Love.’ Both having indirect experiences with the devastating effects of a cancer diagnosis, Farah-Cobb and Mathieu felt their perspectives shift after beginning their journey with motherhood. Having someone who is so completely dependent upon your presence, helped them to decide to begin the project, focusing primarily on the children and their relationship with the parent(s).

In part, ‘With All My Love’s mission statement says that “our goal is to help in the healing process and provide a tangible way to preserve real moments together as a family.” Creating lasting memories is something that both women strive for within their sessions.

“Your photos of her and the children are extremely precious to us. I know that one day the kids will treasure these photos as much as I do now. I can’t thank you enough,” exclaims a former client.

Farah-Cobb and Mathieu pull from their combined years of photographic experience to connect with families. They both run their own successful family-oriented photography businesses and try to maintain the same photo shoot process when photographing a cancer session.

“We treat it like any other family session, we don’t focus on the illness,” explains Farah-Cobb. “I am honoured that our family had a chance to be “normal” and live in the moment and appreciate the day without worrying about what kind of uncertainties that cancer has brought. Cancer may be powerful, but it cannot destroy love,” says a past client of ‘With All My Love.’

The photo shoots are making a fairly big impact so far, with several former clients speaking to the treasured memories created through the process. From hearing stories of former clients decorating their hospital rooms with the photos, to spending their final hours in palliative care with an ailing parent gazing at the images, the pair have enjoyed seeing the impact these photo sessions make and hope to serve several more families in the upcoming months.

The photo shoot application process involves filling out a quick form through the ‘With All My Love’ website (www.withallmylove.ca) and answering a few questions about the individual, as well as an appropriate timeline, for whom the application is being made. There are very few requirements for eligibility, those who apply must be parents of a child under the age of 18 and must have been recently diagnosed with, in treatment for, currently living with, or in early remission for cancer.

As their reach continues to grow, Farah-Cobb and Mathieu hope to continue connecting with families in need, to create tangible memories to help ease the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis as a parent. Recently, the pair have worked to preserve memories of a family in Old Ottawa East, their first clients from this community.

A final thought from the ‘With All My Love’ website: “We know that this project can’t make everything all better, but our hope is that, if memories fail, the photos can bring them back to the little moments together, to a feeling and the beauty of their family.”

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Filed in: FP, Front Page, Life Column

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