Friday, June 15, 2007

The face of cancer

In November of 2006 I came across a fascinating video on YouTube called Everyday: Noah Kalina Takes a Photo of Himself Every Day for 6 Years. Since I was in the midst of chemotherapy, I became interested in seeing how my own face changed during my fight with cancer. I have compiled six months of my daily photos into Face of Cancer in high resolution or as a streaming movie from YouTube below.

The concept of daily self-portraits is not original to me nor to Noah. An article in the Boston Globe tells the story of a photographer who has been taking his own picture for twenty years. But I felt that the technique would be particularly well suited for chronicling how cancer affects a person's appearance.

Would I grow visibly sicker as chemotherapy took its toll or as the cancer progressed? Is appearance really a better indicator of health than blood tests and X-rays?

This movie begins with the start of my third round of chemotherapy. The second round had made my hair fall out and gave me terrible acne. I also had great pain with walking, which we would later learn was due to a tumor destroying my pelvic bone. The second and third months of this movie include a period of radiation treatment targeted at that tumor.

As an artist I regret not having photographs of earlier periods in my treatment such as hospitalization and recovery from surgery. But I had not yet conceived of addressing my cancer with art and daily photographs are not the sort of thing that family members usually think of when visiting a sick relative.

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