Dying Woman's Breast Cancer Battle Chronicled in 35 Haunting Photos

We often hear that someone is "fighting breast cancer." However, it's hard for friends and family to grasp what it truly means. That is what Angelo Merendino and his wife Jennifer faced after her diagnosis. To help others understand what their world had become, Angelo began taking photos chronicling Jen's fight for survival. The result wasn't just a depiction of pain, but a testament to her amazing spirit and strength.

Throughout the series, people are confronted by Jennifer's beautiful and haunting images on both her good days and bad. From smiles in their shared bed to the fearsome moments in the doctor's office, each snapshot is more emotional than the last. 

More from CafeMom: A Woman Battling Breast Cancer Was Turned Away From MAC Cosmetics

Though she ultimately succumbed to the disease two years later at age 40, her profound message is still very much alive in The Battle We Didn't Choose: My Wife's Fight With Breast Cancer (available as an eBook for iPad or PDF at MyWifesFightWithBreastCancer.com).

More from CafeMom: 10 Silent Signs of Cervical Cancer Women Shouldn't Ignore

Angelo is donating 50 percent of net profits to The Love You Share, a non-profit organization he started to provide assistance to women in breast cancer treatment. His dream for this amazing collection of images: "I hope people will see the love in our story and not just the loss."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "I had never met a woman who was so beautiful," Angelo says. "Jen was so full of life and energy. I knew she was the woman I was going to marry."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    Jennifer was diagnosed in February 2008, just five months after marrying Angelo. "Jen called me on the phone after the doctor called her," he recalls. "I remember the sound of her voice. I was numb immediately. I'm still numb."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "I told her we'd make it through all of this because we had each other. I can still see her eyes and how scared she was."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    "We had no idea what was coming at us," he recalls. "How could we have known?"

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    After a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and reconstructive surgery, doctors told her she was cancer-free. However, in 2010, they learned her cancer had metastasized.

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "One of the most difficult things for me was to be helpless. At times all I could do was hold Jen. I couldn't make the cancer stop. Aside from Jen dying, that may be the part of this that hurts the most."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "Our life was a maze filled with doctor appointments, medical procedures, medications, side-effects ..."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "Jen was very open with her experience. She felt it was important for people to see what life with breast cancer was really like."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    "After Jen was diagnosed, she found that most everything she read on the Internet re: breast cancer was sterile and clinical. Jen wanted to know what women with breast cancer had to say. She ultimately started her own blog http://www.mylifewithbreastcancer.wordpress.com."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "Jen was number one. Period. I always thought about whether or not it was appropriate to take photographs, and when the camera needed to go away, I put it away."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "Our friends and family rallied together to form an incredible support group. They sent cards, visited when Jen was up for it, sent dinner, held fundraisers. I don't know how we could have made it without their support."

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

    "We were fortunate to receive help from many people. It wasn't only people we knew -- people came out of the woodwork to help. It was really incredible ... I have never witnessed such love and support." 

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    Image via Angelo Merendino

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    "I hope our story encourages dialogue, not just about breast cancer, but about life and love."

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