Craig and Bonnie Butler opened their photography studio in 2000 in the old Plymouth, Michigan train station. From the studio, the entire Butler family captures clients’ wedding and graduation memories, including both daughters, Katie and Emily. It’s the quintessential family business, one that brings the Butlers closer together.
“It’s been nice them having their own business, they were always able to be there. My sister and I swam in high school and I always saw their faces in the crowd, so things like that helped us be a more solidified family. It was always the four of us, it wasn’t like ‘Oh, dad can’t make it’ or ‘mom can’t make it.’ So that was nice,” said Emily.
In late 2016, the family had to respond to a diagnosis. Emily faced a battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, a cancer that spreads rapidly throughout the lymph system and eventually attacks the liver, brain or bone marrow. She was entering her senior year at Michigan State University—one that would be filled with doctor visits, numerous tests, and chemotherapy.
Despite the shocking news, the Butlers stayed strong and optimistic.
Craig, Emily’s father, recalls the evening they found out. “Emily, now you can be bald like me!” Craig said. “I just sat there and thought, ‘No! You did not just say that!’” Emily said. Despite the uncertainty of Emily’s condition, the Butlers found confidence and hope through humor.
After a few months of treatment, Emily entered remission. “I’ve been in remission since December and the doctors said that after five years I’ll be completely cancer-free.”
“Emily, now you can be bald like me!” Craig said. “I just sat there and thought, ‘No! You did not just say that!’”
Often times, cancer diagnosis, paperwork, and treatment options are overwhelming, even for an entire family. The Butlers found relief—and an abundance of helpful support—in a care manager at Priority Health.
“There was this [Priority Health] liaison that really helped us out and it felt like she was on our side in finding the different avenues that we needed to approach when seeking treatment for Emily,” said Craig. “She walked us through everything and gave us advice.” The advice may have been impactful and useful because it was coming from a real nurse—many of Priority Health’s care managers come from actual nursing professions, giving them the expertise needed to provide rich experiences for patients.
“Any time when you have issues, you call companies and tend to get bounced around to so many different people. You start to feel like just a number, but we could always call Sherrie, our care manager, and she would get to the bottom of the issue,” said Craig.
Thanks to one employee’s helpfulness and Emily’s commitment to fight cancer, the Butlers are back to normal. They continue to shoot photos from their studio, where Bonnie plans to open a sweets shop next door in the coming year. Craig, Bonnie, Katie and Emily include health and success as their reasons to be thankful. They are four of the reasons why Priority Health works hard to offer the best health insurance possible.