“Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream…
…really do come true!”
I have a story to tell. A beautiful story of a man meeting his dream woman. Who is perfect in every way! She’s beautiful and unique with a voice like velvet, with green eyes so intoxicating his knees buckle. And a smile so large, bright and heavenly – his heart is visible outside his chest and he suddenly feels like a young boy again.
He’s been waiting his whole life for this girl.
It’s a story of a woman meeting her ultimate man. A man so boyishly handsome, with a sense of humour that makes her laugh with pure joy from the heart. Who’s eyes are so kind and caring – she instantly feels safe. Who’s embrace is so gentle and warming…
She knew she’d found home.
Rochelle & Rogerio’s love story started just 4 years ago. It’s a journey like no other. A journey that has seen it’s fair share of curve balls and intense challenges in it’s short time. However challenges that have only made them stronger, with more love for each other than they could have ever imagined!
I met these two 3 and half years ago, just 2 weeks before their wedding day that they organized in 3 short whirlwind weeks. Their bitterly cold mid winter Akaroa wedding was small and intimate and completely packed with love. There was so much silliness, amazing gut wrenching laughter and incredible love, that made the Antarctic winds feel tropically warm.
Their wedding was the first of our career to truly define the why’s and how’s of everything photography for us. They demonstrated to me everything I loved to be around and capture. They demonstrated why our hearts pump and why we breathe the air that we do.
Friendship & Relationships.
Relationships of true love, tenderness, fun, compassion, laughter, understanding, pure joy and …making each moment count.
It’s only natural we all became great friends.
Do you believe in miracles?
The next part of their story involves these little twinkle toes. Their little miracle that started in a dream. A dream about having and holding a baby girl in their arms…
… just 4 weeks later, they found out they were pregnant!
A series of rare health problems have taken place since those two little blue lines showed up on that pregnancy test. And it’s not been the easiest road. However when you see the strength in one little family… you just know… that ‘Love’ is a healer. And Love is the greatest healer. Love keeps you strong.
Not long into Rochelle’s pregnancy, like most women she experienced morning sickness… But not just any old morning sickness which most women would prefer to avoid as it is (even though it is a good sign of a healthy baby). She was in that 2% of women in the world to develop Hyperemesis Gravidarum. With this condition, nausea and vomiting is generally constant, and women often have weight loss, dehydration, and changes in their metabolic state.
Rochelle experienced this for months on end as she was growing her precious baby. Her weak body was often carried to the toilet as she couldn’t stomach any food to gain even a small fraction of energy to walk. Her strong wee girl was feeding off anything at all that her body could give her, in the end that was just her fat stores. What she didn’t realise at this time was… this was just the beginning of a multitude of rare health issues that will be with her heavily for the next 3 years. There is God to thank for her caring husband and her rock for coming into her life, without the love that projects from him… this wouldn’t be the story that it is.
She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl called Pearl Isabella on August 1st 2012. Pearl is the absolute light and star of their lives… through rain and shine!
Not long after Pearl was born, things took a turn for the worse with Rochelle. Her health hit an all time low.
Tears trickling down her cheeks one day… she quickly hands her young baby to her Mother… she knew something was seriously wrong when the intense pains throughout her body had moved into paralyzing her face.
Months and months of tests and talking to different doctors, the conclusion was Cancer from what they could see in her blood cells. Hearing the C word has got to be the most crippling feeling of all. But this Mother and Wife had only just found her dream man and given birth to her precious wee girl… she wasn’t giving them up without the greatest fight of her life.
Rochelle is an increeeedible singer… when I say incredible, I say that with complete and utter emphasis. Her voice makes your skin tingle and your heart stop beating for a second. Along with playing piano and writing songs, music is so natural to her. She has a true God given talent, the type that moves the soul to dance.
This first song she recorded for Nana West. Her Nana wanted her to sing this at her funeral, but Rochelle wanted her to actually have it, so this was her gift to her well before she passed away. That’s the type of person Rochelle is.
‘His Eye is on the Sparrow’
‘The Prayer’ with Caroline Stanton
Throughout her 20’s she performed many gigs and as these health issues arose, she was in the middle of Jazz School. However her singing was compromised for a while as the disease they first thought was cancer had impacted her lungs so severely. It would be another few months before they pinpointed her illness as the rare disease, Sarcoidosis.
The cause of Sarcoidosis is unknown and can affect any organ in your body. Even your heart. The disease usually starts in the lungs, skin, and/or lymph nodes (especially the lymph nodes in your chest). And this was the confusion they had when concluding for a period that it was Lymphoma Cancer.
Rochelle amazes me. Her bubbly personality is crazy infectious, her smile is so broad and bright, you find yourself smiling without even realising it. She’s so genuine and giving, with a massive heart and so much love to give. She’s a breath of fresh air on a rainy day, and the most vivid rainbow in the sky. What I love most is… there is no disease or health problem that will get her down. She has gone from strength to strength with her husband and daughter by her side, regardless of what her body has had to endure (and in turn what her mental state has had to overcome too). She rises above every single challenge with grace. She is an absolute inspiration and a girl worth knowing fully and completely.
Not long after being diagnosed with Sarcoid, her weak, very ill, painful body was put on steroids. Prescribed for only 4 weeks, this turned into almost 6 months. The steroids reduced the inflammation and pain in her muscles and her lungs magnificently. And most importantly they did save her life!
Sarcoidosis is a disease caused by inflammation. It’s believed Sarcoidosis is an immune system disease brought on by a failure of the body’s natural defense system. All throughout these health obstacles, her spleen became the prime organ to attack due to an injury from when she was younger. I guess you don’t think too much about how important your spleen is until it’s so damaged, it’s functionality is null in void and has to be removed. Last November she had a splenectomy.
It was one thing after another, a new rare health problem every month it seemed. It was hard, however this bubbly personality kept fighting the fight.
Even as Rochelle was on the road to recovery from her splenectomy, she still had the symptoms of Sarcoid to deal with on a daily basis. Day to day life consisted of chronic fatigue, bone and joint pain, severe headaches and trying to summon the energy to give her absolute best to her wee angel Pearl. Every Mother regardless of their circumstance wants to give their absolute best. Rochelle is no different, in fact she is more determined.
Rochelle & Rogerio were blessed with the most empathetic child of all. Bright, intelligent, dancing, singing, theatrical wee Pearl cups her hands around her Mum’s face on a daily basis and tells her she loves her. Every smile, every funny face, hilarious sentence, and genius dance move… almost makes all the un-wellness seem nonexistent. Pearl is the most divine blessing in their life!
Rochelle and Rogerio have been through so much together in their 4 short years. Rogerio has been by her side every step of the way. They become the best of friends more and more with each day that passes.
Rogerio is the most tender human being in this world. He is so incredibly gentle, caring and loving towards her in every circumstance that is thrown their way. He is incredibly funny and theatrical (wonder where Pearl gets it from) and makes her laugh that little girl giggle that makes her feel divine. Hospital visits seem bearable with Rogerio by her side.
Love is so powerful when you go through an illness. He is everything she needs him to be and more. And I just know the best is yet to come for them.
I love these two with all my heart!
Through all of this, Rochelle has turned to natural, organic products. It matters what she puts into her body now. With constant research and the desire to avoid drugs again, she has turned her diet and way of life around. And a couple of months ago she got the very good news that the Sarcoidosis was in remission. Her lungs showed that they were the clearest they have been since being diagnosed, and her specialist was in awe asking for everything she did so he could help other Sarcoid sufferers.
I wanted to celebrate this family with a colourful photo shoot 3 years after this rollar coaster ride began. Rochelle has lost a significant amount of weight that she had put on from the Steroids (she looks incredible), she got the letter saying she is in remission from Sarcoid (Yesss!), Pearl is a running jumping colourful wee bean and too be honest… I’ve never seen these guys happier. They deseeeerve to be celebrated!
So here they are. My Rainbow Family. A family who radiate strength, love and my favourite word… Joy!
You are an incredible inspiration as a family. You’ve overcome more in 3 years than anybody would wish to in a lifetime. Your strength of character is so encouraging and I’m so proud to call you my dearest friends. Keep that light burning so bright. You’re amazing!
Love you 3 so dearly.