The Battle We Didn't Choose
March 27, 2013 1:11 PM   Subscribe

The Battle We Didn't Choose. Some photographs. It's a little bit heart breaking.
posted by chunking express (34 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
That was a beautiful and heartrendering set of images.
posted by larthegreat at 1:25 PM on March 27, 2013

That's the most understated a little bit I've ever read.
posted by Conductor71 at 1:27 PM on March 27, 2013 [16 favorites]

"A little bit"?
posted by bicyclefish at 1:29 PM on March 27, 2013

jesus. this is devastating
posted by capnsue at 1:31 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Okay, this blog post got me going.
posted by dobi at 1:38 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oh man. Having had family members and friends die of this disease, and being there to have one of them take her last breath in my arms, and having made another her last meal before passing later that night... this is intense.
posted by dbiedny at 1:40 PM on March 27, 2013

That was beautiful. And heartbreaking.

Someone very very close to me is having a mastectomy as I type this. I do not want to lose her.

Fuck cancer.
posted by ambrosia at 1:41 PM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I just had a very close family member go through this with a good outcome, so that's what I was expecting. I was a little bit off.
posted by nevercalm at 1:53 PM on March 27, 2013

Is it possible to somehow reword this so people know what they're about to see?
posted by kinetic at 1:57 PM on March 27, 2013

Thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on March 27, 2013

I was - lucky? - to be in the room when my dad took his last breaths. Liver cancer.

I like Louie CK's take on this:'ll meet the perfect person, who you love infinitely, and you even argue well, and you grow together, and you have children, and then you get old together, and then she's going to die. That's the best-case scenario.

I know he's joking - but he's really, really right.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 1:59 PM on March 27, 2013 [17 favorites]

That made me cry and I loved it. Thank you and thank them.
posted by stonepharisee at 2:01 PM on March 27, 2013

Could use a flag for devastating. Have watched too many go through variants of this. Little bit heartbreaking is a masterpiece of understatement.
posted by leslies at 2:02 PM on March 27, 2013

She was three years younger than me.

We should all have long, healthy lives, and die when we're ready, and when we've done what we need to, and when we have had our chances to say goodbye.

But we don't. Either I'm going to bury the ones I love or they will bury me, and it will come sooner or it will come later. And that's the hardest thing I have ever tried to come to terms with. Mostly, I don't want them to suffer, or to fear for me as I suffer.

But I have something I remind myself of when this makes me saddest of all. I remind myself that every atom in my body was around when the world started, and will be around when the world ends. It assembled itself into this shape, and told itself a story that it was alive, and told itself a story that this life was short and would end. But these are just the stories atoms tell each other through little electrical impulses, because its the way these atoms understand when they have become. And they will become something else later, and maybe tell themselves a new story.

At least part of this story involves my ability to love others and be loved by them. And I will mourn when the story ends, because even if it's just a story, it's a good story.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:11 PM on March 27, 2013 [43 favorites]

When I was working in cancer research, the mantra was "Damnit, we have to do all of this faster." You heard it from patients, patient's family members, people donating money, clinicians, and most often yourself.

Cancer is one of the deepest rabbit holes in biology. It's a shifting landscape of genetics, environmental factors, bad luck, heredity, drug susceptibility, evolutionary forces, cell fates, differentiation, detection methods, micro-environments inside your body, viruses, crazy side effects, non-coding sequence, genomes, transcriptomes, proteomes, metabolomes, interactomes, methylomes, epigenetics, chemistry, and on and on. It is rooted in some of the most fundamental processes in the human body, having to do with how cells divide and die.

One of the most fascinating things is that chimpanzees, our nearest relative, has a much lower cancer rate than we do. Like ten times lower. Although there are certainly life-span and lifestyle differences, there's compelling evidence that some of the cause is genetic. This would imply that a certain part of what makes us human, and perhaps provides us with higher cognition, is also what makes us susceptible to cancer.

Anyways, scientifically speaking, it's both frustrating and amazing that each time we open a door into cancer, we usually find another hallway full of un-opened doors.
posted by Mercaptan at 2:16 PM on March 27, 2013 [19 favorites]

Very heartbreaking, but absolutely beautiful. I appreciate photography much better than I'll understand it, and in this set I swear you can feel the man's love and admiration of his poor, beautiful wife.
posted by es_de_bah at 2:28 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nice work.

When I saw the plastic head restraint I knew how it would end.
Breast to brain metastases is really bad.

I'm two years older than my mother will ever be thanks to that.

Fuck cancer.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:57 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I only glanced at this when I saw what it was about. It's too much and too close. I was taking a metafilter procrastination break from writing a grant application for a breast cancer charity my sister's stepdaughters started. Three generations of women in their family have been lost to breast cancer, all dying in their late 20s/early 30s. My (step)niece died in 2010; she was raised by my sister after her mother died from the disease.
posted by shoesietart at 3:01 PM on March 27, 2013

Oof. That was rough.
posted by Phire at 3:18 PM on March 27, 2013

Very moving set of images.
posted by HuronBob at 3:19 PM on March 27, 2013

..trying to last until they develop a vaccine. Probably won't make it. Keeps you aware that, whether you know it or not, every day is a gift.
posted by mule98J at 3:25 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

She looks very beautiful in the one where they're shaving her head, and I like the one where she's painting her toenails, too. I like how much story there is in the pictures--the one of the couch made up like a bed, with her hospital bed pushed right up against it, for instance. I like that friends and family are included in the pictures, and the cat. There's one picture in a car where she is leaning on the shoulder of a woman who, from their resemblance, must be her mother. I thought this was lovely.
posted by not that girl at 3:36 PM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh holy shit. I should be crying right now but I'm just kind of numb.
I'm sure it's because my father is fighting cancer for his life right now.

I'll cry later.
posted by djeo at 3:58 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

As I was scrolling I just kept thinking "please get better, please get better, please get better..."

These are so beautiful and I can't stop crying.
posted by inertia at 4:02 PM on March 27, 2013

I just looked at all of these pictures and then went over to my friends facebook page and asked specific dates that we need to get together. She is going through chemo now and I found that I would every so often message to say hi, but I haven't seen her in a while. Excuses, excuses. After reading that, I need to see her.
posted by brinkzilla at 4:18 PM on March 27, 2013

In reading these comments, I want to add that, as someone who isn't currently dealing with this illness, nor watching anyone very close to me struggle with it, my heart goes out to those of you relating personal acquaintance with this terror, I wish you all peace.
posted by HuronBob at 4:26 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Is it weird that this made me angry? Not at the post, or at the pictures, because they are both beautiful and profoundly sad, but at the hamfisted tools we use to battle cancer. All of it seems so fucking barbaric, the chemicals, the radiation, the surgery, where it sometimes seems like the only thing we can do is bring the patient right to the brink of death in order to try to cure them. I know that there have been astounding advances in treatment over the last couple of decades, but seeing this woman, or any cancer patient, go through this just fills me with so much rage.
posted by shiu mai baby at 5:19 PM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you've seen anyone who has died of cancer it's shocking how similar all these scenes are. It's a horrible disease that ravages your body.
posted by chunking express at 6:08 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

shiu mai baby, my mom died in 1988 and even then it was exactly like these photos from two years ago. It all still factors down into butchery, poison and nuclear weapons.

It's time and past time for something really new in medicine.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:14 PM on March 27, 2013

Oddly enough, I was OK until I got to the end of the slideshow and then wrapped back to the beginning. Going back from death to vibrant life was too much for me.

I just learned that a friend of mine had a lump removed from her breast this week. She hasn't gotten the biopsy results yet. She's only 28.

Fuck cancer.
posted by muddgirl at 8:18 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

This brought me to tears, and reminds me how much I miss my mom... I wish she could have lived long enough to meet her grand-daughter, she missed it by only a few months.

Too bad cancer research isn't as high a national priority as defence spending or bailing out risk-taking corporations.
posted by marmIrite? at 8:49 PM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by k8lin at 10:48 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

God. A little bit heartbreaking??

Fuck cancer, indeed.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fucking cancer is too good for it. Damn it, instead, to hell.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:03 AM on March 31, 2013

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