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Cancer

From a Partners Perspective

Story by Glenn Charles November 29th, 2015

The phone call

It all started one random day, the day that I chose not to go to the doctor with her. We were virtually crossing paths on the highway when the phone rang telling me to pull over, the news was not good. What we thought was a simple bump turned into a rare form of cancer in the roof of her mouth. The prognosis was good, but surgery would be required followed by radiation. Healthy, active, the news was a shock to the system.

What follows are my images taken before, during and after. My way of coping with the challenges of supporting a partner going through the worst experience, knowing that other than being there — there was nothing I could do to make this better. So I did what I know best; i turned inward, shooting the events with my Monochrom. Here is my attempt to share my perspective of things with mostly images and a few words.

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Surgery

Always a smile. The goal was to remove the tumor from the roof of her mouth without punching a hole through and into her nasal passage. Success with the Tumor, failure with the hole. A nasty quarter size mess of tissue opened up from the roof of her mouth. Recovery was going to be complicated.

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pills -- seriously

She has a fucking quarter size hole in the top of her mouth with a jaw that was clearly dislocated during surgery. How the hell is she going to swallow pills. Two years later she still struggles with this even though the hole has closed to the size of a pencil eraser.

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Eating becomes a challenge

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Finding space

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the plunge

Each year we sponsor a Polar Plunge where money is raised and donated to the less fortunate in the community. This year, only weeks after surgery and contrary to her doctors advice, she still chooses to take the plunge on a frigid January 1st day.
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The winter from hell

Blanketed in cold and ice, this would be one hell of a winter. She has about six weeks to get strong before she starts 6 weeks of Radiation therapy.

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bikes and whisky make everything better

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love will get us through

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phase II

We live 2 hours from the Cancer center and she is about to begin 6 weeks of treatment, 5 days a week. The winter from hell makes it impossible for us to make the commute so we choose to move into a hotel 4 days a week, returning home only on the weekends. The kindness of our friends makes this possible as 5 dogs try to figure out where we have gone.

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the amazing staff

There warmth, smiles, caring and understanding do more to make the process bearable than anything. E chooses to blast the radiation room with music each and every day in order to get by.

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The mask

The location of the cancerous area requires her to have a molded mask created and be bolted in for each and every treatment. A large tongue depressor is molded to help protect that part of her mouth from stray rays. I was not prepared for this…

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no words

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a loaner

Our dogs stayed at home, all 5 of them, but a kind staff person gave E a stuffed animal that would stay with her for each and every treatment. Always a smile on her face.

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life in a hotel

We did the best we could, living in a motel for 4 days a week during a winter of frigid temperatures and more ice than I cared to see.
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loved ones

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such a strong spirit

Kicking Cancer in the ASS

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a little whisky makes the sadness go away.. one glass at a time

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The power of trinkets

The dog, her music, and a scent ball make each and every treatment more comfortable. Chocolates don’t hurt either.

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the Machine

A marvel of technology. An X-ray is taken daily and then used to match up with the beam pattern, insuring that everything is lined up as it should be.

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presents

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muddy boots is her saviour

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done

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the mask

She wanted to take it out and shoot it for all the pain and anguish it caused her. Collectively we talked her into keeping it as a reminder of all that she had overcome.

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Footnote: Leica Monochrome and a 50 Summilux
Eastern Maine Medical Center, State Street, Bangor, ME, United States