BEFORE THEY TURN TO STONE

A little over 8 years ago, my grandmama, Linda, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Then on June 18th, 2011, she passed away. I was very close to my grandmama. She meant a great deal to me. She was a beautiful woman who loved to sing and dance, she even took dance classes with me when I was younger. She was such a kind spirit, and she was a devout Christian. She accepted and loved everyone. She of course had her faults as everyone does, but overall she was an amazing human being, and was taken much too early at 63. ALS can be a hereditary disease, it isn’t always, but the fact that it can be is terrifying. My mother, my aunts, my siblings, my cousins, and our future children all have the possibility of being diagnosed with this in the future, and that terrifies me. 

 

“Before They Turn To Stone” was inspired by a combination of a dance routine on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance,” a show that my grandmother loved (also called “Turn To Stone”), and how my grandmama felt during her last year on this earth. She felt trapped in her own body, she felt like she was turning to stone. I'm hoping this photo series can help spread some awareness. I'm not very good at fundraising, and I don't have a lot of money to donate, and the only thing I'm really good at is art. So my way of helping is by making art.

This series is for my mother. She loved my very grandmama dearly, and took care of her during her final days (as well as my aunts, and myself, and of course her loving husband). My mother has not only lost her mother, but also her father and stepfather. That’s a lot of loss to go through at such a young age. I hope this series would have made my grandmama proud. Each image is representing a different stage in ALS, and shows how quickly it can progress. Most, after being diagnosed, have at least three years to live. My grandmama’s illness progressed very quickly though, and she lost her battle only after a year. The last image is a representation of my grandmother, and that she’s no longer in pain, and is in a place where she can walk, dance, and sing again. 

Around the world, someone loses their battle with ALS every 4 minutes. More needs to be done to find a cure. These people are important. These people are our loved ones. 
Please donate today to either www.alsa.org, or www.alsintheheartland.org for the local chapter. 

This series was very hard for me to create, and I wouldn't have gotten through it without the help of my whole team. You are all beautiful people who really helped me cope with my grandmama's death. They say the hardest images to create are the ones closest to home, and this was definitely extremely close to home.

© 2020 Chelsea Nielsen & CNielsen Photography

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