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SAYING GOODBYE WITH PHOTOS
After a three-year battle with throat cancer, Ray Burrow recently decided to stop chemotherapy treatments — which means he will likely die. The father of three knows he'll miss out on his children's important milestones — like getting their drivers licenses, graduating and getting married — so he and his wife, Christy Burrow, decided to pose with their three kids, Zaidee, 15, Ava, 13, and Nathan, 9, for a touching photo shoot on April 28 to commemorate those precious life moments. These photos were shared with PEOPLE with permission from the family.
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Zaidee wore the dress Christy donned when she married Ray, her high school sweetheart. "We had to work fast in order to keep him comfortable. Ray was happy, a little disoriented, but overall, very aware of why he was doing this," photographer Amanda Ward, who worked with partner Jennifer Williams of Southern Fried Photography to capture the family's bittersweet moment together, tells PEOPLE.
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A YOUNG GRADUATE
Ray mustered up the strength to pose with Nathan, who wore a red graduation gown. "These are the moments that Christy wanted to make sure were captured for her children," says Ward. "She wanted photos of each of the children in a cap and gown with their proud father smiling down at them, happy for their achievements."
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HAND IN HAND
"He exuded so much love for his family," says Ward of Ray, here with Ava holding hands.
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KEYS TO THE CAR
"[Christy] wanted photos of Daddy handing over the keys to an amazing classic car for their upcoming 16th birthdays," says Ward.
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Christy hopes that Zaidee and Ava will keep these photos for their own weddings, since Ray will not be there to walk his daughters down the aisle and give them away.
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"[Christy] wanted photos of this strong family she and Ray worked so hard to create and nurture, standing together for what may be the last time before Ray was too weak to stand on his own," says Ward. "Ray and his amazing family are now doing all that they can to enjoy every moment they still have with him."
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DADDY AND DAUGHTERS IN WHITE
"Christy wanted photos of the girls in a wedding dress with their Daddy so it could be displayed proudly on the day of their nuptials," adds Ward.
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On November 3, 2014, Ray was diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. He has undergone three surgeries, intense chemotherapy and 40 plus radiation treatments. Scans never showed any improvement. In April 2017, he made the difficult decision to stop all treatments. Now, he has only days to live.
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"This is us winning over cancer...not allowing it to take anything more away from us," Chrissy told Ward.
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