Lifestyle & Human Interest

Dad with Terminal Cancer Stages 'First Dance' Photo Shoot with Daughters Whose Weddings He'll Miss


Weddings are full of little ways to honor the people in our lives who have loved us, supported us and encouraged us. There are places of honor given especially to parents of the bride and groom, traditions that most people look forward to when the time comes.

Fathers walking their daughters down the aisle. Parents giving away their daughters to be married. Mother-son dances. Father-daughter dances.

But not everyone is blessed to be able to experience these wonderful milestones. Jason Halbert from Texas has two lovely daughters — but after getting a grade IV glioblastoma diagnosis earlier this year that quickly spread to his spinal fluid and being told he wouldn’t live much longer, the family knew he probably wouldn’t be around to see his two children happily married.

“Jason has always been the most attentive father,” his wife, Nicole Halbert, wrote on Facebook on Oct. 20. “He’s never missed any of their events. We have raised two daddy’s girls and I was about to break their hearts.

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“Their future suddenly looked very different. The dreams they had of their daddy walking them down the aisle had come to a screeching halt. The certain songs they’ve played hundreds of times while imagining themselves swirling around a dance floor, in the perfect dress, in the arms of the first man they ever loved, suddenly took on new meaning.”

But then the family realized they could have that special moment now if they made it happen. They could treasure those moments with him and look back on them when he was no longer with them.

It took an army of friends and generous strangers, but the plan started to take shape.

“A dear friend immediately went into action, organizing the logistics of this incredible endeavor,” Nicole Halbert wrote. “Dozens of friends offered up wedding dresses for the girls. They each found the perfect one. Friends came to do their hair and make-up. A gorgeous location offered full use of their facilities. The videographer at church made sure the girls would have the most special video that they can watch for years to come.

“When I asked my dear friend, who happens to be one of the most talented photographers on the planet and is in the crux of busy season, if she would be willing to shoot this event, she responded ‘I’ll do it’ without hesitation. These people didn’t just make this happen, they made it perfect.”

That photographer was Shalonda Chaddock of Chubby Cheek Photography. Chaddock, a mother of two daughters herself, knew how important it was to capture the special moments that Jason and his daughters would get to experience, however briefly.

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“I have photographed a lot of difficult shoots … but this one was by far the most difficult to photograph because I know this family personally and I have watched these girls grow up,” the photographer told WTVT.

The video and photos captured will be treasured by the family for years to come. While the girls are holding onto their videos so they can play them at their eventual weddings, the family made the decision to share the photos for several important reasons.

“One, when you are faced with having to fit a lifetime of memories into a few months, you pray hard and you lean into the people who love you,” Halbert explained. “So many of you have been there for us through this journey and we wanted to share this moment with you.”

“Two, there may be other young girls and boys out there that are faced with losing a parent, maybe struggling with the loss of what’s to come. Maybe this story can strike an idea for someone else to PRE-create their moments, so feel free to share it. Please SHARE it! It was because someone shared a similar story that planted this seed, and we will forever be grateful for that, so we’d like to pay it forward.

“And the last and most important reason we decided to share is to ask that anyone reading this researches Glioblastoma Multiforme and Leptomeningeal Disease. They are both extremely rare and get very little attention. Those living with this beast need more research, more funding, and we need a CURE! Having more people fighting along side those of us in this war is what will create much needed change,” Halbert wrote.

“When our girls look back at this chapter, I want them to remember not a journey of death, but a journey of life.”

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