GRATITUDE: 10 Years After The Cancer Diagnosis

My sister Lea, with her husband and two kids looking back on where they’ve come from. (Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley, CA)


Today I was going to write a blog post to introduce our new website Boathouse Studios. Boathouse is our brand that is dedicated to family and love and everything that we do that goes along with that (wedding photography, kids/family/puppy portraits), but by sheer luck, the day that the website is ready, and the Facebook Page is finally live: I realize that TODAY, January 10th, 2015 is the 10 year anniversary since my sister was diagnosed with leukemia. A milestone like that makes me realize how lucky we have been to have had so many wonderful friends in the fight with us, and also, just how far we have come. So, today’s post is not going to be about branding and logo design, but today’s post is dedicated to my big sister Lea, and her amazing family, 10 years after the cancer diagnosis.

Lea and Billy’s kids: Henry and Kate (Mill Valley, CA)


I took my sister’s family up to one of my favorite spots in Marin last month for an impromptu photo session. The location is somewhere up on the side of Mt. Tamalpais, where the mountain literally looms above the clouds and Pacific Ocean in Mill Valley, California. I first came to this location ten years ago, after my sister told me the news of her cancer diagnosis and I flew out from Maine to be with her. At the time, we thought her cancer may be a death sentence, and the original doctors essentially confirmed that with an “enjoy the years you have” sort of attitude. But look how far we’ve come! Lea tried many different treatments that didn’t work, and eventually moved to Seattle for the bone marrow transplant, that saved her life.

Perspective. (Overlooking Bolinas from Mount Tampalpais, Marin, California)


But life after transplant was hard. It was really hard actually, and I honestly don’t know how she did it all: hundreds of prescriptions, the daily hospital visits, the pain from bones that broke because of the toxic medications she was on, not to mention the destruction of her vision and skin. All I can say is that she suffered and always came up smiling. She is the toughest and most graceful person I have ever met. Adversity and cancer has never met someone quite like Lea Morrison.

Right by her side was her husband Billy, who not only acted as Lea’s primary caregiver, but also somehow managed to find the strength to start a thriving business. And as soon as the doctors said that it was safe and reasonable to do so, Lea & Billy adopted two amazing little babies: Henry & Kate. I have no idea how they ever manage to handle that amidst the doctor’s visits & hospitalizations! Becoming an uncle has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

But here they are! 10 years after diagnosis. 10 years and a few months since they were married in Sun Valley, Idaho. What a long, strange trip it has been, and I am grateful to have been here for all of it.

So today, I wanted to take a moment to be grateful for the support we have all received, and also just sit back and reflect on the amazing journey we’ve all survived. Little moments like watching a girl blow bubbles and a boy chase them in the wind take on greater meaning now. These are all moments we were never entitled to, never confident about… but full of gratitude now.

I would be lying if I said we all escaped unscathed: we all have our bumps and bruises from the journey, our emotional and physical scars and maybe even a few gray hairs because of the stress… but LOOK! Look at what these ten years have created! Look at these lives that have been touched and improved and appreciated! Some people never get the opportunities we have had: life saving medical treatment, the life saving generosity of a bone marrow donation from a total stranger, and most of all, the support from amazing friends and family along the way. I am grateful to have a sister like Lea who, despite some physical challenges still, is getting healthier and stronger each day. Thank you to everyone who made these ten years possible! -BGW

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  • January 10, 2015 - 1:22 pm

    Lea Morrison - so selfless and incredibly beautiful in every level. I am touched to the core. What a release for me as I simply could never capture that in those words or those magical moments!ReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2015 - 5:38 pm

    Annie - Beautiful – on so many levels! xxxxReplyCancel

  • January 10, 2015 - 10:02 pm

    jeannie matthews - Lea and Brian……. this is priceless!! Brian you captured the Lea I know so well in her sweats and panoptx glasses with a smile on her face… its been about 9 years i think we have been bff and I cant imagine my life without her…. Brian- I really admire your relationship together and how you have jumped in at every emergency along the way…….

    Words cannot describe how these pictures at this mountain coast made me feel. It brings to mind one of my favorite quotes” yesterday is history. tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift” Lea– you are making each day count and you are winning . My strong warrior amiga…… rock on girlfriend….. and bmt sista. xoxo JeannieReplyCancel

  • May 27, 2015 - 11:05 am

    Urszula Peruń - A wonderful, loving family. The family is the strength. You have a wonderful heart. Beautiful Lea, a wonderful husband, brother and sweet babies. Congratulations and admiration you!
    I wish you all the best and regards!ReplyCancel

  • July 25, 2015 - 2:10 pm

    Gabriela Aviles - So beautiful. Lea is an amazing woman.ReplyCancel

  • September 24, 2015 - 1:24 am

    Lori DeBuhr Dann Rath - I have a sister going through this with little support do you think Lea could share or help my sister understand what road she is on. Ups and downs daily and feeling alone. So far from family. God bless you and your familyReplyCancel

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