Meet Janet-Ceri Herd Photography
In 2010 Janet’s youngest daughter Charlotte lost her battle with rare childhood cancer, AT/RT. She was six years old.
At the time of Charlotte’s diagnosis in 2006 there were barely any treatment options available for this type of cancer. Her oncologist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston was offering one of the only protocols for AT/RT. Charlotte relapsed several times, as is often the case with AT/RT, and each time she pioneered a new treatment for this disease. Charlotte endured almost five years of aggressive treatments, each one more pioneering than the last.
When Charlotte received her diagnosis Janet, along with other families impacted by the disease, was stunned by the lack of research, lack of available treatment and lack of funding. Janet immediately began thinking about ways to raise and direct funds to the AT/RT research being conducted at the Dana Faber Cancer Institute. Since 2008, through creative fundraising efforts, the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) bike-a-thon, and the Jimmy Fund Walk, Janet and her team has raised more than $3.5million.
Each year the Jimmy Fund selects children in treatment and pairs them with a PMC team. In 2010 Charlotte was a PMC Pedal Partner for Team Lick Cancer. Janet has been riding for the team since 2011 and her eldest brother James since 2012; her twin brother Will, sister Katherine, and father Jim, volunteer and help with the logistics of the event each year. Last year alone Tick Lick Cancer gave the Pediatric Brain Tumor Clinic at Dana Farber a check for $630,000.
Team Lick Cancer has helped fund several research projects and a clinical trial at Dana Farber that have given researchers better understanding of the causes of the disease. They now know that a single gene is responsible for this cancer. They have also discovered that AT/RT brain cancer is very similar to that of many other more common cancers (kidney, breast, colon, bladder, skin, ovarian, pancreas, stomach and lung) in that they share the same gene deletion. As such, this funding has the potential to directly lead researchers to unlocking cures for more common childhood and adult diseases.
But Janet hasn’t just focused her efforts on research fundraising. In 2015 Janet started The Princess Charlotte Project. The Princess Charlotte Project provides and distributes princess dresses and accessories, super hero costumes, and other gift bags to children undergoing cancer treatment. During her six years of life, Charlotte spent a lot of time at the Jimmy Fund Clinic and at Boston Children’s Hospital. She loved dressing up as a princess and engaging in imaginative play even while an in-patient. The project is dedicated to brightening the lives of children who endure painful cancer treatments. Janet also works with local high school children as part of their community service requirement. Among other things, students have put together gift bags for patients, created the project website and promotional material, and designed and sold PMC socks. In 2017 Janet and PMC volunteers organized an “Imagination Ball” for children undergoing treatment for cancer. Patients and their siblings were able to pre-order costumes that were waiting for them when they arrived. Thanks to a donation by John Hancock Financial and volunteers dressed in costumes, children and their families enjoyed an afternoon of music, crafts, games, cupcakes and dancing.
Through all of this I had to wonder what keeps Janet pushing forward. It was then that she told me about another little boy named Emmett. Emmett had been a pedal partner for Team Lick Cancer and needed a new treatment option for his AT/RT. Thanks to a clinical trial that was funded by Team Lick Cancer, there was a new option for Emmett and it was working. Emmett’s mom sent Janet a message with a picture of Emmett holding his new baby sister. They named the baby Charlotte in Charlotte’s honor and to give thanks for the research and treatments made possible through Janet’s efforts. We sat together as I listened in awe and with tears in my eyes silently gave thanks.
When I sat down to have coffee with Janet I had studied her nomination and researched her charitable work, so I felt like I knew what to expect from hearing her story in her own words. However nothing could have prepared me for meeting her in-person. I was captivated by her charisma, her passion, and her strength of character. As I soaked up every inspirational word I was struck by how blessed I was to be in her company. I can say with utmost confidence that her charitable success will continue to grow and astound others.
Short Bio of Photographer
Ceri is originally from the UK, spent three years living in the desert landscape of Arizona and now resides in Massachusetts with her husband, two children and fluffy pooch, Nerys. Ceri’s photography is characterized by her love of in-camera creative techniques: double exposures, intentional camera movement, shooting through objects and freelensing. She is a chocoholic, wine connoisseur and is always ready for the next adventurous road trip!