Jason Michael Bryant hates cancer. Doesn’t matter which kind, he hates them all. Unfortunately, he’s something of an expert – both his mother and stepfather died of the disease within six months of each other. Now, Jason is on a mission to inspire others.
The 28-year-old photographer came up with the idea of creating an inspirational photo book during all that time he spent in hospitals, reading magazines and wishing he could look at something that might give his family hope or strength. The book is called The Lavender Ribbon Project because lavender is the color that represents all cancers. It will have a photograph of a person who has or has had cancer on one page and their thoughts – good and bad – on the other.
“Every picture I take,” Jason said, “allows me to remember where I came from.”
Jason’s mom and stepdad got married when he was six. The family moved to Corpus, where his parents became assistant pastors for a local church. When Jason was nine, the church fell on hard times and couldn’t pay them. Rather than uproot Jason in the middle of the school year, his parents put everything in storage and they stayed in various parishioners’ homes. Jason never missed a meal but he learned later that his parents did. They fell behind in payments to the storage shed. When they tried to pay their bill, they discovered everything had been sold – all of their photographs, videos, even Jason’s birth certificate. Jason still remembers his mother’s face when she realized all their pictures were gone. It’s what motivated him to become a photographer.
After leaving Corpus, his stepdad became a manager at McDonald’s in Lockhart and started a nondenominational church. His parents were pastors there for 18 years until their deaths in 2013. Jason said his mother always thought about others before herself. There were a few times she was supposed to go to the doctor, but she used that money toward other things the family needed. She was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2011. His stepdad found out two months later than he had colon cancer, but he didn’t tell anyone except his best friend. They had no insurance, and he wanted what money they had to go towards treating his wife.
Jason, a Texas A&M graduate, was working in Washington DC as a congressional aide. He moved back home to help care for his mom. After nearly two years of treatments, hospital stays, and a brief remission, she came on to Hospice Austin’s service. She was cared for at home before being admitted to Hospice Austin’s Christopher House on Dec. 23rd.
“I was really nervous,” Jason recalled. “I thought she was going there to die. But they got her feeling better. It was Christmas and it felt like Christmas. Volunteers were caroling, there was a big meal, the room was filled with family exchanging gifts. We opened the door to the courtyard for fresh air and leaves were blowing in. Everyone was laughing and cracking jokes. It wasn’t the best Christmas we ever had, but it was a good Christmas.”
His mom was able to go home for a short time before returning to Christopher House, where she did pass away. A month later, Jason’s stepfather told the family that he “had some cancer,” but it would be all right. He passed away five months later at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House.
Since then, photography has become a therapeutic process for Jason.
“Cancer changes people,” Jason said. “I’m doing some searching … and so are others who are affected by this disease. I’m interested in what they’ve learned. I’m going to put my parents in it so they can live on, but I’m not just doing it for my parents. I want to plant something positive for others in the same situation. Pictures just speak to people.”
To contact Jason about participating in the Lavendar Ribbon Project, please visit