Community rallies around extraordinary Seattle photographer

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by MIMI JUNG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MimiJungKING5

KING5.com

Posted on June 14, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 16 at 5:25 PM

For years, Lynette Huffman Johnson has comforted families during their unspeakable grief. As a photographer, she captures photos of terminally ill children, including babies who have just hours to live. She doesn’t take a dime for her services. Her non-profit organization Soulumination now boasts 40 volunteer photographers who take on this emotional and compassionate work.
 
Now, those photographers and those families who share this incredible bond with Johnson are rallying around her, after she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in April.
 
Johnson will never forget the moment her doctor delivered the news by phone. “She said ‘Lynette, it’s lymphoma’ and I tried to whisper to her ‘I have to call back’ and I hung up the phone,” Johnson recalls, with tears streaming down her face.
 
It was a devastating diagnosis for a woman who is known for being a work-a-holic, always on the go and juggling multiple projects. Chemotherapy has made her weak, frail, nauseous and has taken a toll on her trademark hair. But she refuses to suffer in private.
 
On Wednesday night, she gathered her friends and family and threw a superhero themed party, complete with face painting, popcorn and outlandish costumes.
 
Then, she bravely did the inevitable. She shaved her head in front of everyone. 
 
Dan Wilson, former Mariners pitcher, and friend of Johnson’s, was the first to sign her head. Then, one by one, her friends did the same.
 
“She just reaches beyond the discomfort of death and illness,” said Angie Sutphen, whose daughter was photographed by Johnson before she died.  
 
That’s why it was important for Sutphen to be there for Johnson during her time of need. “It’s just a gift to be able to witness that and also support her,” said Sutphen.
 
Doctors say if Johnson responds well to treatment, she could live 10 years or more. But she doesn’t like to talk about that. Not because she fears death. She’s just not done living.
 
“I have such a great life and I have so much more to do,” said Johnson.
 
Money raised at the head-shaving event will all go toward Johnson's non-profit, Soulumination.

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