Cancer patients get free portraits with families

Julie Buehler poses for a photo with her 17 grandchildren at an event held at Mary Free Bed Proffesional Building.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan woman fighting breast cancer got to take a step away from medical treatment and hospital visits Saturday.

Julie Buehler and family members went to the Mary Free Bed Professional Building to get family portraits taken as part of an event that also included free hair styling and makeup for its participants.

The event is part of a national campaign called “Help Portrait,” aimed at helping families with loved ones who are either fighting with or have beaten cancer.

“The stories are absolutely amazing as to how they ended up finding out that they had cancer in the first place, to the support they felt with the family,” said Eric Miller, marketing manager and videographer at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. “It’s just really nice, it’s an opportunity for them to kind of talk about their journey and walk away with a lasting memory.”

Buehler has been battling an aggressive form of breast cancer for the past year, and recently traveled to Detroit with 18 family members to pray for a cure at a beatification. Each family who took pictures went home with a hard copy and digital copy of pictures on a thumb drive.

“My grandkids all love being together and my kids enjoy being with each other and so whatever excuse we can get to get together it works,” Buehler said.

As she posed for photos with each of her 17 grandchildren ranging in ages in sizes, everyone was beaming from ear to ear as they captured another memory.

While the family hopes for a miracle, they may have experienced one of their own today.

“I think miracles happen over a period of time and sometimes it’s through the process that you go through that you actually discover the little miracles in your life because of it,” she said.

Taking part in Saturday’s event was part of her day-to-day approach to appreciating her life and the loved ones in it.

“There’s not necessarily a good prognosis for this, there is no cure, so anything that we can (do) to create memories,” Buehler said.

Buhler’s family is coming together during the difficult situation they are facing.

“We’ve learned to see beyond what we have in the past with our family relationship and just grow stronger as a family,” Buehler’s youngest child, Christa Buehler said.

While Buehler’s mindset is to enjoy the day-to-day miracles, she is beginning to see some positive signs for the future.

“The tumor that was the original tumor has shrunk 50 percent right now, so that’s a really good thing,” she said.

Buehler didn’t learn of the change until after the beatification.

It was the first time Mary Free Bed hosted this event, which it said it plans to host again next year.