I was introduced to Melody Lomboy and Gracelyn Bateman of Luna Peak Company in early 2018 when I had the pleasure of being a part of their Project Inspire Hope. Here is their story.
Tell us your story. What is your program all about and how did you find yourself involved?
Luna Peak Company was created by my niece, Gracelyn and I. Because of my experience with triumphing over childhood leukemia at age 6, we wanted to learn from my family’s experiences and help others when facing difficult times. We decided to create inspiring books and media content. We photograph cancer and grief survivors and our mission is to celebrate life. Our cancer survivor project is called “Project Inspire Hope” and our grief survivor project is called “Snapshots of Life After Loss.” We are known for elevating survivor stories to give hope to those faced with extreme adversity. We know that sometimes you need to “see it to believe it” so we have photographed survivors and crowdsourced stories from those who have been through the experience and are now thriving. Seeing the eyes and faces of those who have walked a similar path can be a powerful reminder that we are not alone. Our photography humanizes the taboo subjects of cancer and grief that people are oftentimes too afraid to talk about. We open up a platform for people to share about their experiences and help others in the process and hope that it also sheds light on how to better support individuals through these tough times. We have created a platform where survivors and fighters feel safe sharing their very personal stories. We are proud that our participants have also found a sense of healing from sharing their stories with us as well.
What populations and areas do you serve?
So far we are working with cancer survivors of all types of cancers to serve newly diagnosed patients looking for inspiration. We also work with grief survivors to help those newly dealing with grief. We have other populations to serve as well and are working on more ideas. We basically want to work with those in need of seeing through challenging times.
What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission and what ways do you find to overcome them?
Our mission is to provide products to help others through the universal ups and downs of life. We are passionate about elevating the stories of survivors and strive to inspire others to embrace life with the same vigor. One obstacle we have faced is getting to all of the survivors that want to participate. We have survivors all over the world reaching out to be a part of “Project Inspire Hope” and it is hard for us to travel all over to get to them. Another obstacle was getting our work published to be available to those that need it. We implement instagram, twitter and facebook but would like to have a tangible book available to patients in the hospitals as well as waiting rooms across the country. We are currently working with a wonderful literary agent to make this possible.
Luna Peak Company aside for a moment, tell us about yourself. What makes you, YOU!
I battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia from ages 6-9. Surviving when many did not, I quickly found out just how strong and resilient a person can be. Throughout treatment, I swam competitively to keep my mind clear and body strong. This passion for the water led to a swimming scholarship at UC Irvine. I married my high school sweetheart, Tom Lowe, who was inspired by my oncologist at City of Hope. Tom is now an oncologist at Cancer Care Associates in Torrance. When I was undergoing treatment, I was told that I may not be able to have children, I now have 3 miracle babies- Daniel , Koa and Aiden. Family is everything to me and working with my niece makes Luna Peak Company even more special.
How has C directly impacted your own life?
My cancer experience has shaped my entire life perspective from such a young age; when other kids were worrying about their homework- I was getting chemotherapy and fighting for my life. I feel the need to give back to the cancer community. I do this through volunteering, fundraising, and sharing my story of beating the odds to give hope to others who are newly diagnosed. My life motto is to CELEBRATE LIFE.
What are your go-to acts of self care?
I love to live life to the fullest by challenging myself with new adventures. I own a talent agency, practice yoga, swim in open water swims, play tennis and compete in mud runs. Besides my family, I am most proud of creating Luna Peak Company with the help of my niece. Without her I would not be able to juggle my mom life and this business. She is the driving force that has made this all possible. Daily check ins with Gracelyn keep me on track and sane.
What have you learned about yourself and the C community since starting with your program?
I have learned that there is is a special bond when you meet another person that has battled and overcome cancer. I am not sure if cancer chooses the strongest people to challenge, or if fighting cancer makes you a super person. But either way, survivors really are resilient, strong and amazing people.
What are some of your happiest and most joyful moments in this field?
When we have survivors come into the studio to have their photos taken. First off, I love to see them getting pampered by our amazing volunteers. They have their make up and hair done and get to feel great about themselves. It’s nice to see that cancer cannot take away all joy. When they come in to get photographed, they feel a bit nervous. So my favorite moment is telling them that I am a survivor as well. The minute I tell them, I am greeted with a huge smile and a big hug. The survivor connection is made and they relax and take the most beautiful photos. I love seeing their joy and strength.
Would you like to share one of your shittiest moments or memories of working in this field?
The hardest part of working with survivors and fighters is learning that someone passed away. When you have a large community of cancer survivors and fighters, this comes with the territory. It’s hard to deal with. Another very difficult and scary thing is finding out that a survivor that we worked with gets diagnosed with a secondary cancer. It challenges all survivors mentally, as we all fear a reoccurrence. We continue our work in memory of those that we have lost.
What are the latest happenings with your program right now?
We are finished with our photo shoots for cancer survivors and are almost finished filming grief survivors. Gracelyn and I are brainstorming new ideas to inspire others.
If you could share any piece of advice for someone who has been diagnosed, what would it be?
The diagnosis of cancer does not completely define you. But use it to mold a new you. Learn from this experience and take what you learn with you throughout your life. All of those challenges will help you in every facet of your life. And never ever forget to CELEBRATE LIFE.
How can we help Luna Peak Company?
We would love to have our social media sites grow. Please follow and share!
How can we contact you?
@lunapeakcompany (twitter and instagram)
Luna Peak Company (facebook)