The world should know about Tanner Evers. He was the sweetest little three-year-old, whom I met back in 2006. I was first introduced to Tanner and his family because I had decided I wanted to document the life of somebody living with cancer as my final project for one of my photography classes. I honestly didn’t think anyone would be willing to let me delve into such personal and intimate details of their life. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. Through the American Cancer Society, I was put in touch with Katie Spaulding, Tanner’s Aunt, and I explained to her why this was so important to me.
I was tired of taking meaningless photographs just to get through my classes. I wanted to do something that I truly cared about. I wanted something that would push and inspire me, rather than just shooting whatever at the last minute to get a passing grade. Let’s face it, I was your typical procrastinating, lazy college student. I wanted the grand outcome with little effort. This was different though. I would be part of something that was greater than myself.
Katie put me in touch with Rebecca, Tanner’s Mother. The first time we met was at the hospital and I left my camera at home. It was very important for me to get to know Tanner, the family and the more significantly that they felt comfortable with me and my gigantic camera. Rebecca gave me all the details on Neuroblastoma, a form of cancer that usually develops in the nerve tissue of infants and children. Tanner was diagnosed with stage 4, high-risk, Neuroblastoma in August, 2006, about three months prior and was given about a year-and-a-half to live.
Rebecca and her family welcomed me with open arms. Whether I was visiting them in the hospital or at their home, I honestly just felt like I was hanging with the family. I looked forward to spending time with them. Tanner warmed up to me pretty quickly and I often found myself playing cars or chasing him down the halls of the hospital or their house rather than shooting! He was the cutest baldie that I had ever seen and had the most beautiful bright eyes and stunningly long lashes. Over these couple months,we ate dinner together, went shopping and Rebecca even ended up becoming my all-time favorite hair stylist, who I now miss dearly since I have moved out of state!
It’s very difficult for me to talk about these photographs and put this experience into words. This little boy made a difference in my life and truly touched my soul. He is an inspiration to everyone and the support and strength his family showed over the last 5 1/2 years is commendable.
Although it has been a couple years since the last time I saw Tanner in Rebecca’s salon, I think about him often and these photos always remind me of the beauty in his fight against Cancer.
After 5 years of beating this disease, Tanner passed away on Saturday, April 14th, 2012. I think the most important thing to take away from Tanner’s life is to see how full of love Tanner was and the outpouring of love he received in return, sometimes from total strangers. His smile lit up the room and he now has a fan page of over 3,000 people, who look to him as their real-life super hero! He endured insurmountable amounts of pain and suffering that nobody should ever have to go through and at the same time managed to be a typical little boy.
This is my absolute favorite moment between Tanner and his sister, Maddison. There’s really no words.
Hook em’ little guy! You will live on forever in our hearts.
You can also view his memorial page by clicking here.
Tanner’s friends and family also ask that you follow his friend Abe, who is currently battling against this same disease. You can learn more about him by clicking here and joining his brigade.
Tanner and I back in 2006…