As an ongoing project of my mums cancer treatment, I have been trying to document all her medical care. These are more images I took of her radiotherapy treatment, she has a secondary brain tumour caused by her lung cancer, and so was prescribed a week-long treatment of radiotherapy.

I went back after Homer’s (my tutor’s) advice, and stood back to get more of the room and details in, to try to show more of the environment, and I think some of these work better, especially in colour. I find this a very hard project to do, it’s one I really want to do but when you see someone in your family in distress or pain the last thing you think is ‘oh what f-stop shall I use? or ‘Should I just move round a little to get more of the nurses head in’, your first response is shame, shame that I can pick up my camera and photograph my mum who is lying there being fitted with an acrylic mask stuck to her face and then having her head clamped to a table, shame that I should even want to do this project. I am her daughter first and a photographer much later than that, but I think this is an important project to pursue, one she and other family members can look back on. I just need to find a way to do it and not feel like I’m exploiting her pain.

MASK FITTING/ They need to make a mask that moulds around her face, which is then clamped to the bed. This is so she does not move her head at all, so the radiotherapy is directed to the right part of her brain and no where else.

The lasers are used to line the patient up exactly with the machines rays. They do many x-rays to make sure her head is in exactly the right place.

After many x-rays and slight changes to the machine position, once they are happy the brain is in the right place, the mask fitting is finished.

To my mums joy they remove the mask.

THE FINISHED MASK/ That was just the fitting for the mask, treatment hadn’t been given then. She found the mask fitting more horrific than the actual radiotherapy treatment, which was a lot quicker.

TREATMENT/ Five doses, given on five consecutive day, each treatment only lasting a few minutes.

Waiting for the next course of radiotherapy.

LASERS/ When they have lined all the lasers up, it’s time for the treatment.

Everyone must leave the room and go into the control room next door. They watch her in the treatment room through the two tv screens on the wall,  and simple set the dose amount and time on the control pad and turn a key to release the radiation, then 30 seconds later they rush back in to the room and un-clamp her from the table.

LAST DAY/ Going home.


4 thoughts on “CANCER/Radiotherapy

  1. If these photos or something like this were put into a hospital brochure it would be really interesting for prospective patients, and their families, wouldn’t it? These photos show high-technology treatment has a strange, reassuring beauty, I think.

  2. i think at least you’re there with her on all these occasions supporting her, like you’re going through it with her, and i’m sure your mum is happy to support you in your course. having distractions like f-stops might help you keep focused and calm and be more supportive.

    they do look better in colour, although it seems starnge to comment on the aesthetics of something so personal! The little details like the cabinet of masks and viewing your mum on the screens are really evocative, discomforting to view as i think they really help the viewer (ie me) to empathize with the patient.

  3. Hiya

    Im a therapy radiographer. This is brilliant work both creatively but also is a potential asset to oncology. It records someones journey and can be accessed by others about to embark on their own journey too. Im really privileged to work with patients like your mum and to work with radiographers like you have in your pictures.

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