Blood Work

In October 2009, Suzan was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer. Her doctors told her that the tumor, which engorged her left breast and caused her nipple to invert, was growing at a rate of 40%, as opposed to the normal 5% growth rate of breast cancer cells. We met the week after her diagnosis, just before she began chemotherapy. Suzan’s desire to record and explore her journey through images reflects one of my primary interests, which developed in 2008 after my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My mother is now living with cancer, but no one prepared her for that possibility. There was no dialogue in place to explore the emotional and physical transitions that became a part of her everyday life, as well as the new shape of her body and its missing pieces. The difficulty of being visibly sick in a society focused on physical perfection furthered feelings of isolation and guilt that accompanied her sickness. The most recent work from this series is a transition, both visually and conceptually, from a documentary project about one woman’s experience with cancer, to a deeper investigation of the cyclical nature of illness. The series also investigates the isolation that can be self or society-induced, the difficulty of balancing everyday responsibilities with treatment, and the effects of a medically sterile environment on one's perception of her/his body as a foreign or feared object.