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I lost my parents to cancer at the same time and photographed their fight

Nancy Borowick

It’s hard to not be profoundly changed by what has happened in my life over the last couple of years. My mom had breast cancer and my dad had pancreatic cancer — both were metastatic and found at stage 4. How could this be? This isn’t how it’s supposed to go. Nothing about our circumstances made sense, but these were the cards that had been dealt. So, as a family, we tried to continue living in the face of our parents’ mortality. There was a lot of joy and light in a time of struggle and darkness, and I look back on that time with great appreciation for the strength and courage my parents showed and the lessons they taught us along the way.

As a photographer, I needed to find a way to process what we were going through as a family. Naturally, my camera and photography became therapeutic and gave me a context within which I could understand what we were going through. It allowed me a safe distance from the reality of what was unfolding in front of me — I was losing my parents and there was nothing I could do about it. My camera became my lifeline, and documenting our story brought a different kind of healing to our pain.

I captured every moment because I needed to hold onto every memory. I wanted to hold onto the essence of who my parents were and who my family was before the moments passed and they were gone.

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