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In Sickness and in Health: Austin Wedding Photographer Couple Battles Cancer and Wins

Publication: KTBC-TV (FOX, Austin)
02/14/2020

AUSTIN, Texas - Bill and Karen Peary met in Florida. Karen was on vacation with some girlfriends when she met Bill. As Bill tells the story, he was getting ready to leave a restaurant when the sun began to set. Bill looks over and sees Karen gazing at the sun.

“She said is anybody sitting here? And I said something smart like, do you see anybody sitting here?” Bill chuckled.

The two held each other’s hand and attempted to act natural for the FOX 7 camera. The Pearys are not used to being in front of the lens but instead behind as wedding photographers. The Peary Photography website has numerous accolades. The couple has spent about 13 years capturing big moments in countless people’s lives.

"It's fun working together, I know where she is, we've done this so much. I don't even need to look for her anymore,” said Bill.

"It's kind of like dancing together," Karen said with a smile.

The teamwork they displayed in their art eventually translated into some of the biggest hardships the Peary family has had to face—cancer. In 2009, Bill and Karen were returning from a wedding when Bill complained of a pain in his stomach. He said Karen insisted he see a doctor. Thankfully, he did. Not long after Bill said he got a call from Texas Oncology, Bill was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

"I was scared it might not work," said Bill.

The Pearys did as they do best and threw themselves into their work. Bill received treatment from Texas Oncology and would get on his laptop and edit for photos while he waited to be seen. Karen was right by his side, as were their three daughters giving Bill the strength he needed to beat cancer.

"I don't want to go through cancer again," Bill said. “I look around and it's tough, it's like that guy in that chair over there, I’ve been there. Who does he have with him? Does he have support? Does he have someone who cares?"

Karen was no stranger to Texas Oncology, she was already being seen for an abnormality in her blood found years ago. Karen said doctors were tracking her health and found multiple myeloma.

"This is something I never expected to materialize into anything but when it did, it was what does that mean now," said Karen. "We don't get to choose the hardships we go through but you can choose how we go through them and those people around you how you help them go through it."

The Pearys' doctor Michael Kasper said Karen’s treatment was tough. She had to undergo chemotherapy. In 2016, Karen had a bone marrow transplant, she said it’s thanks to Bill’s positivity and the good doctors at Texas Oncology that she was eventually cancer-free.

"We don't get to choose the hardships we go through but you can choose how we go through them and those people around you how you help them go through it," said Karen.

The couple still goes to Texas Oncology for check-ups and described the environment like a family.

"I'm going to put them on a pedestal in my waiting room,” Dr. Kasper said. “People often ask, isn't hard to be an oncologist? Well, we have some sad times here but we also have some great times and having patients like Karen and Bill makes it all worthwhile for me."

During the interview, the Pearys turned and looked at each other with admiration.

"It is the support; it’s knowing that no matter what—he's going to be there for me," Karen said.

"I talked about how strong you are, whatever came your way you handled it and I don't know if I could have,” Bill said. I would've done it, but I would've been a big baby, but you are strong, you are really strong and I admire that."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"I love you."

"I love you too."

"We made it."

Click here to watch the full story.

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