I don’t know where to begin this emotional roller coaster so I will simply start the story how the story started.
This time last year, I got my routine blood work done (*I am anemic and have thyroid issues so I have to get blood work every 6 months to make sure my iron levels are okay) and went home to start packing for my trip to Washington DC to photograph a beautiful engagement session for the sweetest couple. I could not wait because even though I have never met this couple, they planned a weekend filled with things for us to do and restaurants to try. Traveling, hanging out with awesome people, eating at new places, and taking photos? I’m in.
On the day I was driving down to DC, my doctors called me to tell me that my blood work results were worrisome. Of course they followed it up with, “But don’t worry.” They didn’t know exactly what it was but my white blood cell count was low to the point of concern. I needed to get more testing but they said it could be early signs of sjogrens, leukemia, lupus, or a number of other autoimmune diseases. I am sure you know which ones out of that list stood out to me and were all I could think about all weekend.
After crying for most of the car ride, I finally got down to Washington DC and greeted my clients with a huge smile and big hug to let them know how excited I was to be down there. And I was excited. This was what I needed. Nothing I could do now would change my blood test results so I just wanted to have fun and enjoy the weekend exploring the city and taking beautiful photographs.
I left the engagement shoot in Washington DC feeling refreshed, energized, and optimistic. Coming back home to Philadelphia to get my next round of blood tests, I didn’t cry. I am still not sure if it was because I cried it all out on the three hour car ride or because of the beautiful weekend I just had.
The day I received my blood test results in my email, I also received a thank you card from Sasha and Barrett in my mailbox. I read their thank you note and cried again. This time from happiness because the kindness of strangers never stops amazing me.
I didn’t look at the results yet but stopped to think about what my doctor told me a few years ago. He said that if I don’t calm down, it’s really going to effect my health. Now here I was, about to open my next round of ‘worrisome results,’ and I knew in that moment that, while some things were out of my control, other things were fully my doing. I could make the choice to work hard but not let my work run my life. I knew that no matter what that email said, starting that day, I was going to make that choice.
Before I opened my results, I held Sasha and Barrett’s thank you card in my hands, and realized how incredibly lucky I am that most of my clients are like this couple from the Washington DC engagement session. I remembered all the times that my couples would come up to me at events to make sure I ate and had some water. I remembered all those times when I told clients the date their photos will be delivered, and they responded with, “Oh don’t worry about it. We planned to do the engagement shoot ahead of time in case you needed more time to edit.” I remember all of the thank you cards and the heart warming reviews. I remembered all of the brunches and dinners to just hang out and talk all things wedding or boudoir.
The stresses of any industry can weigh you down but with the kindness of strangers turned into friends, we can all be a little bit more healthy.
The results came back positive for multiple auto immune disorders (no cancer) and since this time last year, I have been monitored by doctors to see what the next step is. The most recent blood test from last month has, again, not been great, but with no physical symptoms making it easier to pinpoint exactly what it is, all they can do is keep monitoring me. Per specialists orders, I have made changes to my diet, I have been doing more meditation and breathing exercises, and I have learned to say no to work after a certain hour. What’s funny is, I am getting all my work done at the exact same pace I was before; The difference is I am no longer stressing about it and I have my blood work and my clients to thank for that.
Thank you to my (excuse my language) shitty blood tests for making me realize I need to make some serious changes and thank you to amazing clients turned friends, who without knowing it, have been the light in my darkest hours.
Thank you for opening your homes and your lives to me. Thank you for trusting me with these intimate moments in your life. Thank you for always saying, “no rush” whenever I say, “I will try to have these photos back to you asap,” You have no idea how much hearing that simple phrase means to someone who used to skip out on family gatherings and doctors appointments to make sure she got some editing done faster than the agreed upon delivery date. Thank you for showing me the good in the world. Thank you for everything.
Currently based out of both Philadelphia and Los Angeles, Kseniya's work brings her all over the globe to document beautiful memories for stylish couples who want to make a statement.
Recently named one of the top 100 Wedding and Boudoir Photographers in the world, Kseniya puts her artistic and vogue-style aesthetic into every image.