During our battle, we have been blessed with an incredible support group. Nonetheless, most people are not aware of the challenges that we face every day. We often hear: “Jen looks healthy, glad that things are back to normal.” Little do they know that she is in chronic pain from the side effects of 3-plus-years of treatment and medications. Or that we face fear, anxiety and worry daily. Few know that Jen has to give herself shots every day into her abdomen. She has to use a walker and cane and is exhausted from being constantly aware of every bump, bruise or twitch. She has to do special exercises to fight off lymphedema. The frequent doctor visits lead to battles with hospitals and insurance companies. Pain has sent her back to the hospital twice, for week-long stays.
Jennifer has a blog if you would like to keep up with her.
Sadly, most people do not want to hear these realities and we can feel our support fading away. Other cancer survivors share this loss. People assume that treatment makes you better, that things become OK, that life goes back to “normal.” However, there is no normal in cancer-land. Cancer survivors have to define a new sense of normal, often daily. And how can others understand what we have to live with everyday?
My photographs show this daily life. They humanize the face of cancer, on the face of my wife. They detail the treatments forced into and onto her body, through the visible scars. They show the challenge, difficulty, fear, sadness, loneliness and also love that we face, that Jennifer faces, as she battles this disease. These photographs do not define us, but they are us. Cancer is in the news daily, and maybe, through these photographs, the next time a cancer patient is asked how he or she is doing, along with listening, the answer will be met with more knowledge, kinder empathy, deeper understanding, sincere caring and heartfelt concern.