Having seen first-hand the horrible impacts of cancer, Toronto photography store owners Chris and Grace Hughes are doing a little something to help bring some joy to those who have been diagnosed and their families.
The couple is offering free Picture a Cure photography sittings for people battling cancer out of their shop, A Nerd’s World. The quirky shop is located at 986 Bathurst Street, just north of Bloor.
“In the last four years, I’ve had four close family members who have died of cancer and two more who are fighting cancer,” Chris said. “After my grandparents passed away, I wished I had had professional photos taken with them and now I want to make sure other people have that opportunity.”
Cancer patients and their families can come in for a one-hour sitting, after which they take home a disk with the shots on them.
Since they started offering the free sittings, they have held roughly a dozen shoots, with the subjects able to pick and choose what they want to convey through the photos.
“They’re welcome to come with their whole family and they can have backdrops for indoors or outdoors,” Chris said. “We just want to make sure they’re comfortable and get the photos they want.”
The Hughes couple, who live in Etobicoke, posted flyers in the chemotherapy ward of Princess Margaret Hospital in hopes of spreading the word about the Picture a Cure program. While the flyers have attracted people ranging in age from their early 20s to their 80s, Chris was surprised to find his clientele has been exclusively female.
“I don’t know why that is,” he said. “Maybe the men are less comfortable with it, but we want to keep it open to everyone.”
Many of those who have come in for sittings have been so grateful for the opportunity that they have kept in touch, keeping Chris and Grace updated on their progress.
Cancer survivor Munira Premji, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Type B Cell Lymphoma and Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma, was thrilled to learn of the opportunity being offered at A Nerd’s World. She quickly gathered her family together and they booked a photo shoot.
“The experience was so much fun, with the lights and the studio,” she said. “Chris was really low-key and highly competent, and he allowed us to do whatever we wanted to do.”
Premji, a North York resident who writes about her experiences battling cancer on her personal blog at www.i-will-survive.org, was taken by the gesture and by Chris’ sensitivity surrounding the shoot.
“I could tell right away he was a man with a social conscience,” she said. “I love what he stands for, I love what he does and you can see the pride he takes.”
For his part, Chris is grateful for the appreciation he receives but feels doing what he can for those dealing with cancer is simply good citizenship.
“This is just something we wanted to do,” he said. “Really, how could we refuse?”
For more information on the shop or to book a sitting, visit www.anerdsworld.com or call 647-726-2020.