MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) — Just a few months ago, life was going great for Natalie Thomas.
The 25-year-old Myrtle Beach native had a husband, Timothy, and a two year old son, Nate, she adored. She loved her job as a photographer.
On top of that, her family was getting ready to add a new baby girl. When she went to the hospital this January ready to welcome baby Bennett into the world, her life changed.
"When I went in they told me I was not in labor," Thomas said. "It turns out my daughter had been putting pressure on my left kidney where I had a cancerous tumor and she had caused it to hemorrhage and bleed out, and that's the pain I was feeling."
Bennett was born healthy a few weeks later, around the same time Thomas was officially diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer in her kidney.
"It's called primitive neuroectodermal tumors," she said. "My oncologist has actually never even seen it himself in all his years of being a doctor."
Now Thomas spends every other week at MUSC in Columbia for chemotherapy.
"My son gets mad at me when I go in for chemo because he doesn't understand," she said. "It's very difficult, I'm not going to lie."
When she is home, Thomas can't even be alone with her kids.
"I have to have help every day because I've had some like syncopal episodes where I passed out so they have to make sure that doesn't happen," she said. "I'm in a stage of my life where it's supposed to be happy...it's very difficult."
Along with the physical pain, as well as multiple other hospital stays for blood transfusions after becoming neutropenic, she struggled with something many chemotherapy patients do...losing her hair.
"That was very difficult on me," Thomas said. "I had very long hair, I had long hair my whole life."
She was talking to a nurse about it during one of her chemotherapy sessions when she got an idea.
"She was going into pediatric oncology, and I was like 'oh my gosh, I can't imagine a little kid going through the same thing I'm going through,' because it's a lot more difficult for them I'm sure," Thomas said.
She could use her talent as a photographer to highlight the beauty of being bald.
"A little kid getting a picture taken of them where they're all dolled up, I was like 'oh my god I would love to do that for somebody,'" Thomas said. "I was like 'I would love to do that for myself.'"
So she did.
With the help of her brother Dustin, apparently photography runs in the family, Thomas went all out for a photo-shoot on the beach.
"I wanted it to be a super fancy dolled up thing, so it was kind of like a mock shoot of what I want to do for these little kids," she said. "I felt awesome. I haven't felt pretty in a while."
When she posted the photos, which got hundreds of shares, Thomas started making even bigger plans.
"A whole bunch of people told me that I looked like a Disney princess, and I was like 'That is a great idea,'" she said.
Now she's using the photo-shoot to start a push for Disney to create a bald princess.
"There's a lot of little kids who don't have somebody who look like us to look up to and I was like 'that would be an awesome thing if Disney were to do that,'" she said.
It's a movement she's just beginning, and doesn't honestly know how far it'll go, but it's one she believes could have a real impact.
"It would be really awesome to be able to get some kind of following for some type of princess, something of the sort that little girls can look up to," Thomas said. "Even if it's just a short story, something that would be, you know, adorable."
For now Thomas will keep fighting. She's got about three and a half months of chemo left.
She hopes that's it, and that the struggle can be just a little bit easier for future kids going through what she is, having a princess they can look up to.
To learn more about Thomas's mission, and how you can help her family during her fight with cancer, visit this link.