On the 8th October 2018, I drove my wife Suzanna to the A&E department of Durham University Hospital. She had been having gradually worsening stomach pains for several months and had struggled to get GPs to take her seriously. She had lost her appetite, was painfully constipated and stomach pains and cramps had worsened to a point that she was struggling to tolerate.
As we waited the four hours to see a Doctor, I felt the urge to take photographs. I had no idea why but I had some sense of something unfolding, however I could not have anticipated the outcome of the following few months.
It wouldn’t be until almost seven weeks later after a CT scan and another visit to A&E that someone told us that Suzanna had cancer.
It was my intention from that point forward to photograph Suzanna going through treatment, Chemotherapy and gradually going through the process of having the disease dealt with and her ultimate recovery. This never happened, instead the images I took have become an incredibly personal chronicle of her extremely short journey from full diagnosis on 4th December to her death on 23rd December.
For me, taking images through this traumatic event allowed me to put a camera in between myself and the seriousness of the situation. For Suzanna I realise in hindsight that she understood that is was what it was doing for me. Since she died I realise now how many people are affected by cancer and how utterly helpless we all are to intervene. If there is one emotion that stayed with me through the whole journey, it was one of helplessness.
My intention by publishing these images is to communicate that feeling, to reveal in a way that others can understand, what the process of cancer is like for families, friends, loved ones and the person with the cancer. I want to provoke conversation and discussion about cancer, death, illness and how we deal with the emotional turmoil of losing someone close to us, subjects that are still taboo in modern society.
20 Days is a multimedia project combining short film and sound, still images. The final project including still images and diary extracts has been published as a one hundred page book.