The 27-year-old Honor native has recently come out of a dark time in her life. Last December, she was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her pancreas.
It was an islet cell tumor, a rare form of cancer that affects about one in a million people, doctors told her. It usually strikes men and older people, and it doesnt run in Nelsons family, which made her case even more unusual.
It was kind of devastating at first, but I never let it get me down. I just kind of took it as, God must have wanted it to happen to me and Hes given it to me for a reason, Nelson says.
She had extensive surgery in January to remove the tumor. Doctors had to remove some of her stomach and part of her pancreas.
The operation was successful, but Nelson continues to go for CAT scans and bloodwork every month. They said it can come back at anytime, anywhere in my body. I have to keep a close eye on it, she said. But I feel back to normal, finally.
However, insurance only covers 60% of her medical costs, so Nelson is raffling off some of her color photos at a fundraiser this Saturday, July 7, in an effort to help cover her medical expenses.
The raffle will be held at her familys gallery, Gallery 31 in Honor, from 5-8 pm. There will also be door prizes throughout the evening, as well as live music, local wines and refreshments.
NATURE & LANDSCAPES
Nelson, who earned a degree in photography from Grand Valley State University in 2002, has been shooting photos for about nine years now. Ill take a picture of anything, she laughs.
She works at Thompson Pharmacy in Traverse City, doing photography on the side, but she hopes to one day pursue her art full-time. Before her family opened Gallery 31 in 2005, she worked at a gallery in Frankfort, gaining background and experience.
Nelson concentrates primarily on nature and landscapes. Its all done locally, she says. Almost every day shooting, I just drive around until I see something. Ive been starting to play around with nature. Ill do closeups of the water when the lights hitting it.
Three of her photos will be raffled off at Saturdays fundraising event: Red Sunflower, Pt. Betsie Lighthouse, and Lake Michigan Sunset.
A lot of people mistake them for paintings, especially the sunflower one, Nelson says.
Raffle tickets are $5 each, or 5 for $20, and can be purchased at Gallery 31, Thompson Pharmacy, and the Crystal Lake Art Center. Prizes will be drawn at 6 pm, but patrons do not have to be present to win.
To see Nelsons photos, or for more information about the raffle and fundraiser, check out www.gallery31.net.
Writer Katie Huston is a new summer intern at Northern Express.