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Bill and Karen Peary: Fighting Cancer Together, In Sickness and In Health

Bill and Karen Peary

“We don’t get to choose the hardships we go through, but we can choose how we go through them.”

Bill and Karen Peary
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma

They say love conquers all. For Bill and Karen Peary, this is an understatement. The Pearys work as a husband-and-wife team photographing weddings in Central Texas. The Austin-based duo have traveled many miles to capture newlyweds’ blissful, unforgettable moments. When they started their wedding photography business more than 12 years ago, they knew they were in for a journey – but they never imaged that journey would include fighting cancer – together.

Life behind the lens

The Pearys’ cancer journey began in 2009 when Bill was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The couple had just wrapped up a wedding shoot when Bill started experiencing stomach pain. After some nudging from Karen, Bill had a sonogram. He went to his general practitioner who recommended that he see Michael Kasper, M.D., medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–Austin Central. His charts were sent to Dr. Kasper and the diagnosis ensued.

“The day Dr. Kasper called me, I was stuck in traffic outside the Texas Oncology–Austin Central location trying to get to the hospital to hold my newborn granddaughter for the first time,” said Bill.

“Everything was just right after another,” Bill said. “You hear the rustling of the white paper and you hear what he said and you’re just like, ‘what?’”

The staff there scheduled a same-day appointment. Dr. Kasper told Bill he had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that causes enlarged lymph glands and lower blood counts. 

While their job is to capture beautiful moments, life behind the camera was not always picturesque. But throughout his chemotherapy, Bill refused to let his diagnosis define him, and he continued photographing weddings with the unwavering support of Karen and their three daughters.

Double exposure

Fast forward to 2016 and six years since Bill entered remission. The Pearys’ photography business was booming. During a check-up for a pre-existing health condition, Dr. Kasper ran tests that revealed Karen had multiple myeloma.

Under the oversight of Dr. Kasper, Karen had outpatient treatment to put her myeloma into remission, followed by a bone marrow transplant (BMT).

“We don’t get to choose the hardships we go through, but we can choose how we go through them,” said Karen, crediting her husband’s support and positivity, and her care team at Texas Oncology for getting her through one of the toughest times of her life.

Fresh perspective

For the Pearys, their health means everything and is something they’ll always be grateful for. They go to check-ups with Dr. Kasper, who noted that patients like the Pearys are an inspiration. 

Advancements in the treatment of blood cancers are making it possible for patients to live more normal lives. Personalized treatment plans give patients better chances for good outcomes. 

Today, Bill and Karen continue to work full-time, living out their happily-ever-afters shooting more than 100 weddings each year for their thriving business.  

The information included in this testimonial is based on one patient’s unique experience and is not intended to represent all patient outcomes or expectations.