A documentation of my journey through treatment for Hodgkin lymphoma
unremarkable ...a term meaning lacking distinction
...the word you want to hear when receiving the results of medical scans
unremarkable is a journey through cancer, chemotherapy, radiation and recuperation, showing that the journey can be one of physical and spiritual recovery instead of a spiral into illness and despair.
unremarkable was motivated by a desire to document my declining health. In November of 2002 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Once the reality of that news sank in, I decided I had to find a way to document my journey through what I imagined would be the deterioration of my physical and visual health. When I say visual health what I mean is the ‘cancer pallor’ that I understood all chemotherapy patients to have; the loss of my hair, which to me was the outward symbol to the world that I had cancer; and the inevitable weight loss that I thought would happen due to the nausea associated with the treatments. The way I decided to do this was to make an image of myself every day for a year starting on the day of my first treatment. What is amazing is that instead of depicting a devastating decline in health, what these images reveal is a rebirth. In the early Polaroids I look dead inside—my eyes empty, my body already ill from the growing cancer. As the months progressed, yes the cancer pallor appeared and my hair started to fall out, but my spirit got stronger and stronger and it shows. This body of work will show everyone how beautiful and strong the soul is even when fighting for its life. At the moment I am done with treatments and cancer free. With these images, I am excited to show the world that cancer is no longer a death sentence, and that the treatments, although horrible, are survivable.
There are 350 daily images that span a 13-month period from December 20th, 2002 to January 1st, 2004. There are good days and bad days but more than anything else these images are real. These images show a journey that too many people all over the world are taking every day. What I found after being diagnosed was that there were an incredible number of books about people’s successful cancer journeys but that every time I found a photo essay about cancer it documented the person’s death; this series is about life.