The night Angelo Merendino and Jennifer Wise were married in Central Park, they danced their first dance as husband and wife as Merendino’s father crooned “I’m in the mood for love,” on his accordion. Five months later, Wise was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was 36.
A photographer originally from Ohio who moved to New York to be with Wise, Merendino documented every part of their lives struggling with the disease, at his wife’s urging.
The photos, which Merendino hopes will help others better understand what it is to live with cancer, are featured on his blog, The Battle We Didn’t Choose.
“My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness and loneliness that we faced, that Jennifer faced, as she battled this disease. Most important of all, they show our love. These photographs do not define us, but they are us,” Merendino explains on the site.
Wise passed away in December, 2011, just a few weeks after her 40th birthday.
In the blog, Merendino tells the heartbreaking story of falling in love with Wise, but no words can come close to capturing the reality seen in the photographs.
“Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern,” Merendino writes on the blog.