Meet Cora Grace
Curious, care-free, kindhearted and cheerful are the perfect words to describe Cora Grace and her sweet nature. Her strength and indestructible spirit is so awe-inspiring and I hope you take a couple of minutes to read about just how amazing this little girl truly is.
I got to spend some time with Cora and her momma for her third birthday portraits in an oh-so-green and overgrown lot in the Heights part of Houston and it was such an enjoyable session. The moment I scouted this spot, I just knew it was going to be the prefect location for some magic to happen. Sure enough, within just a few minutes, we were quickly transported to a magnificent place that allowed for some really great treasure hunting, flower picking, twirly dances, bubble blowing and wish making.
Cora is an extra special three-year-old and one of the strongest little cherubs I might ever come to know. In her first three years of life, Cora has had several diagnoses with many of them falling under the rare disease category. She has had severe GERD since birth and was diagnosed with Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) when she was an infant. She reacted to every single food in momma's diet while nursing and in turn, mom had to restrict her diet to 3 foods for almost 2 years: beef, zucchini and bok choy.
Cora continues to not tolerate foods and has 6 “safe” foods in her diet. Everything is carefully sourced (primarily from a local farmers market) and prepared. Her histamine intolerance means she cannot digest/tolerate many foods and all meat must be cooked from frozen and immediately eaten or put back into the freezer. Fortunately, she loves frozen meatballs :)
She also has Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), which means she can have an allergic reaction to any trigger and is sensitive to everything along the spectrum of food, stress, environment and temperature. One of her biggest triggers is heat, so Texas summers have been a struggle.
Cora was diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disorder over a year ago after extreme lethargy and abnormal gait landed them back in a specialist's office in Austin. Our mitochondria are responsible for creating 90% of the energy needed to sustain life and support organ function. This leads to cell injury and cell death. Symptoms typically include seizures, strokes, developmental delay, muscle weakness, digestive issues and inability to walk. Cora’s symptoms are primarily muscle weakness and digestive distress, which is thought to be the reason for her ongoing GERD and extreme food intolerances.
Cora is currently under the care of a pediatric geneticist who is doing whole exome testing on her, as well as her parents, to see if any or all diagnoses are linked. While her family eagerly awaits the genetic test results, they continue to receive amazing support from her care team and just try to focus on how happy she is despite her illnesses. Cora certainly doesn’t allow any of her diagnoses to define her.
I'm pretty confident that Cora Grace and her session will be one of my all time favorites ever. I hope to keep in touch with her momma as they will soon be moving just right outside of Houston. If you ever get the chance to meet Cora's momma, then you'll know just where she gets her unbreakable strength and resiliency from.
A big thank you to her for providing much of the information for this post.