Gauteng family photography – Aerin and Aimee

The best thing about being a family photographer, is that each family has a story, each family is unique and each child brings something special into my life. What a privilege to photograph Aerin and Aimee for a second time! These two girls and their family are so special and so blessed. Two beautiful girls, with smiles from ear to ear, you would never think that they went through a very rough time. And mom (Marijke) and dad (Jaques) were the perfect parents for these two blessings.

This is the story of Aimee and Aerin’s journey and their courageous mom and dad. ~Written by her mom, Marijke~

Aimee Gertenbach was born on the 21st of April 2007.  One day after her sister Aerin who was born on the 20th of April 2005.  This again was a difficult pregnancy as at 7 weeks Marijke was in hospital and had to have a stitch put in to keep her.  From at about 7months she could no longer work as she was battling with high blood pressure and was put on bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.  One day while having quiet time with the Lord and just felt that God said to her that Aimee will be a special little girl.  Little did she know what was coming.

On Aerin’s birthday party she was admitted to hospital as she was very uncomfortable and in a lot of pain.  This was not suppose to happen as Aimee was due only in May.  At 4 in the afternoon they put Marijke on a drip as she was having contractions.  Well contractions got worse, drip was doing it’s job and by 8 Aimee was born by cesarean section.  She was placed in ICU and stayed there for 10 days.  Mother and daughters blood were incompatible with each other, Aimee got jaundice and was in ICU.

Her father was diagnosed with Bilateral Rentina Blastoma at the age of one.  Cancer of the retinas.  To which he lost his left eye.  This is hereditary and is classified as a childhood cancer.  When Aerin was born they immediately took her to see the opthamologist, she was fine no cancer.  Then came Aimee’s turn and at 8 weeks Aimee was diagnosed with Bilateral Rentinal Blastoma in both her eyes.  Tumors everywhere in her eyes.  The left eye was worse off as the biggest tumor was on the optic nerve leading to the brain.
After a lot of discussion they decided to stay in JHB and start with chemo at Johannesburg General hospital.  At 9 weeks old Aimee received her first round of three days chemo. A week later she was back in hospital to check if the chemo is working.  Nothing, tumors are not shrinking and they are just multiplying by the day.  Back to start another round of chemo of 3 days, back to the doctor to see if it is working, tumors still not shrinking.  By round 5 they were where so frustrated they decided to seek for second opinion.
They contacted Jacques’s doctor in Cape Town that treated him 34 years ago, and to their amazement, she was still practicing at the age of 72.  She agreed to have a look at Aimee.  They flew down to Cape Town, and had her consult the doctor.  They received the following message, your child is in danger not only can she loose her eye but the tumor is on it’s way to the brain.  Three days later she was admitted and two radation plagues was placed in her eyes.  New technology so instead of her whole head receiving radiation, only the areas in the eyes received radiation.  She was placed in a room on her own as she was now radio active.  Marijke stayed with her for the three days.
They came back to Johannesburg and a week later had check up with the doctor again.  She was clean.  By this time Aimee was 9 months old.  She had to see the doctor every two weeks in hospital to check her progress.  Two weeks later again, and guess what tumors are back in full swing.  Doctor then started to treat her with laser therapy, whereby he would freeze the tumors.  The next 3 years were like this, see doctor, no tumors, then see doctor, 5 new tumors and so it carried on.
In 2011 they went for the regular check up and this is where things started to turn. 1st check up clean, 2nd check up clean, 3 check up clean, time between seeing doctor started to stretch from every two weeks to every 2 months, then to every 3 months.  She stayed clean.
Today 2013 Aimee is still cancer free, but not out the woods as yet.  She is still vulnrerable till the age of 6, she will turn 6 in April.  If still clean is she would be officially in remission.  And here is this but.  The chemo that Aimee received can cause other cancers later in life.
“Again another BUT, we believe in a God that is all powerful and we TRUST Him alone.  There is not difference in you getting into your car to buy bread and get killed and Aimee getting cancer again.  Our destiny is death in the end but the question remains, where will you and I end up?”

Aimee is a beautiful girl today, she has not lost any of two eyes or gone blind.  Her left eye is the weaker of the two but she is coping and for her life is normal.  This year she started with grade R and enjoys school alot.
“The final question remains to all of us, do we trust in ourselves to solve things or do we trust God?  We choose to trust God and have commited our lives to Him.”
Every time I look at Aimee, I see a sparkling little girl, she has gone through so much, but still nothing can keep her spirit down, I see Aerin her sister that has been supporting Aimee, I see her mom and dad, and every time they smile and say “We are doing good”. I regularly check up on Facebook on any progress from Aimee.
A very special family and a story of courage and belief.

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