Dan is a Groover, a member of a group of my husband’s best friends from The Zoo (they call it); he’s a happily married father of two; he’s a pilot; he’s the son of a cancer survivor; and he has a brain tumor. I wanted to photograph him, and he indulged me by showing up with a shaved head in a cold, winter week that he was in D.C. for treatment. My impression was that he was looking forward to some benign images of himself and maybe one of the scar to document it and that’s probably all I would have given him if I hadn’t been pushed by a certain photographer-duo to take my images further. Paul Elledge and Leasha Overturf taught me not only to photograph, but to create. They gave me the gift of permission; they pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me take the pictures I want to take, not the pictures my model wants to have. I used this trick innately for the first time on Dan. I wanted an image of the horror I felt when Dan told us over the phone just after surgery that some doctors sliced his head from ear to ear, cracked his skull in half and cut just close enough to his brain to leave him function [yikes!] but also the bright optimism I see in his eyes during recovery that he’s going to beat this monster. the second I saw this one through my lens I knew that I had what I wanted.
Dan does not have a blog (and not from my lack of nagging), so I’ve pirated from an email one of his thousands of worthy comments on his battle with cancer that truly puts life into perspective. just as I can only photograph what I see, only Dan can put words to this experience of his.
The fact that I am getting a chance to get treatment is amazing and wonderful in and of itself, when it could have gone so far before diagnosis that I was past the point of treatment. I met a gentlemen in the elevator two days ago, and he had the same scar as I have; I jokingly said, “Looks like Neurosurgery got their hands on you, too.” He said, “Yeah, twice.” I asked him what he had. He replied “Glioblastoma Multifome” (known as GBM) and asked about mine, to which I meekishly replied “Inflitrative Astrocytoma,” and felt like I’d put both of my size 11s in my cakehole. See, my tumor is the “Scream” of horror movies; there are some scary parts, but there is still some fun and laughs in there. A GBM is “The Exorcist.”
After the Real Camera equipment was put away, I took this with my RAZR and it’s one of my favorites because it justifies “first learn the rules, then learn to break them,” lens flare from the sun adding brightness to a cold winter day of cancer treatment, and a visit from an old and dear friend a highlight in the story of our new home.