Angelo Merendino says he never believed in love at first sight until he met his soon-to-be wife, Jennifer Wise.
“When I saw her, and I thought, ‘I have to marry her. She’s the one.'”
At the time they lived in two different cities, but that didn’t stop Angelo. Within six months he’d moved to Manhattan from Ohio to be closer to Jen, and within another year they were married.
Just six months after their blissful union, Jennifer and Angelo were dealt a devastating blow: At just 36, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. The couple spent the next four years in and out of hospitals, until doctors told them they’d exhausted all their options. In December 2011, Jennifer passed away.
Merendino, who makes his living as a photographer, documented their entire journey together in pictures that he posted on a blog, “My Wife’s Fight With Breast Cancer.” The black-and-white images are breathtaking to say the least — they give an intimate look into the battle with cancer, both the good times and the bad. They put a real-life face on the day-to-day experience of living with a fatal disease, both for the sufferer and those he/she loves.
The photos of Jen have since been viewed by thousands of people, many of whom have battled cancer themselves. Merendino still keeps the Facebook community he started active and is in the process of starting a nonprofit in Jen’s memory to help give food and transportation support to families facing cancer themselves.
“I have some good days, and then there are days where I just kind of have to bury my head in the sand. I think it’ll always hurt to some degree, but I would never change having been there for Jennifer. Our time together was the greatest time of my life. We laughed and loved each other. I’d never felt happiness like that.”
See more of the photos at The Battle We Didn’t Choose
Photos by Angelo Merendino