Photography for Cancer Research

UW Cancer Center, Photo taken during operation in 2009
[O]ne year ago today, I held my mom’s hand for the last time as her life slipped away. Only a few weeks earlier, she had still been going to work every day as the principal at Highland Elementary School in Lake Stevens, WA. Her latest round of chemotherapy, though, had not been effective, and her health deteriorated much more quickly than any of us had expected.

I have never felt so helpless as I did then, watching my mother die and knowing that there was nothing I could do about it.

Today, though, I think that there may be something I can do. I’ve created a gallery of my recent photographic work, and from now through the end of the month,  100% of the proceeds of all prints sold through Light & Matter will be donated to cancer research. All prints will be produced on June 1st and mailed the same week to reduce costs related to printing. enter gallery

[A]s many of you know, in the months following my mom’s death I took an extended road trip, sometimes stopping to take pictures, sometimes just driving aimlessly. I started down the Washington and Oregon coasts, then headed through Eastern WA, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and Montana. All but a few of the photos in the gallery are from that trip.

All things considered, my mom was very lucky. She was surrounded by her husband and a large, loving family throughout her illness, many family members flying across the country to stay with her for weeks at a time. Her school district was endlessly supportive… indeed, I’ve never seen anything like it; they practically created a new, less physically demanding administrative job for her during an uncertain year in her treatment. Faculty and staff brought a flood of food and gifts to her house when she was not well enough to go to work. Let me take this opportunity to thank them all one more time, especially the staff at Highland, Mt. Pilchuck, and the District Office: you have my deepest respect and gratitude.

For those of you who didn’t know my mother, I wish that I could explain how wonderful she was, and how much richer the world was to have her in it. I could go on for pages, but not knowing her, I fear you’d only see the ramblings of a boy who loved and misses his mother.

Unfortunately,  most of our lives have been touched by cancer in some way. How many of you have lost grandparents to cancer as I have? Had friends or family members diagnosed with prostate, breast, or pancreatic cancer, or perhaps lymphoma? Perhaps, then, I don’t need to explain how desperately I’ve wished that there’s something I could do to help: I’m sure we all feel the same way. This seems like a good place for me to start.

Agree? Then lets pass this page around and see what we can get done together.

For those of you who would rather make a tax-deductible donation to a non-profit directly, then let me recommend my mother’s ACS Mosaic page.

To my regular readers, please forgive my self-indulgence in this matter… I’ll return to the discussion of photography with my next post.

Cancer Awareness Walk-A-Thon, Mt. Pilchuck Elementary, May 6, 2011
Cancer Awareness Walk-A-Thon, Mt. Pilchuck Elementary, May 6, 2011. Photo by Rob Spierling
Trudi Spierling with Grand Daughter
November, 2009

This page and gallery were created in loving memory of my mom, Trudi Spierling.

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I joined your site today, and found this page in my wanderings. I lost my mom to cancer, too, in 1999. It was hard to watch, and I knew that feeling of helplessness. In the last few years, cancer has taken too many of those about whom I cared. What a lovely dedication to your mom. Deepest sympathies for your loss. Judging by your website, your mom must be very proud.


matt a very nice tribute to your mom.this is a horrible disease. My wife is a five year survivor of breast cancer and we and the entire family just participated in the Cancer Walk at Jones Beach New York just a few weeks ago. Hopeful in time not as many people will have to suffer a loss like you did. Memories like photos are a great thing to remember what is so dear to us. I am sure your mom would be very proud of you. Best gary

Bill Minton

Posted to both Twitter and Facebook.

I lost my father to cancer several years ago. His health was already weakened by a stroke, but he did hold on long enough to meet my first child; Jada. I wish he could have seen the other three. I miss he and his advice greatly.

Beautiful tribute to your Mother. I have no doubt she’d be proud of you, your work, and what you’re doing here.

If there’s ever anything I can do for you Matthew…



Dear Matt,
What a beautiful tribute and such a great way to honor Trudi. She is forever with us in our hearts.