Often pictures speak louder the words. Certainly, they can convey an emotion or make a statement in a way that is different, if complementary to words. For this reason, and in line to give voice to people living with cancer as well as portray the important work that its members are doing to provide care and support, UICC recently commissioned a series of photo shoots in cancer centres around the world with willing patients and caregivers.
The images taken at the Fundación de Cáncer de Mama (FUCAM – Breast cancer foundation) in Mexico were captured by Adán Jardón and reveal how individual journeys are filled with a measure of fear, anguish, sharing, commitment, hope and even joy.
“I am waiting for results. I am scared, but I have had very good care and that gives me confidence and security.” – Jessica, woman with breast cancer who participated in the photoshoot at the Fundación de Cáncer de Mama
Many of the women featured in the photos were diagnosed this year or last year with breast cancer. They are called Irma G., Jennifer I., Verónica L., Jessica L., Anselma M., Sandra M, and Natividad V.
They have all expressed gratitude for the care they have received or are receiving at FUCAM and display an inspiring resilience in the face of their individual challenges.
Participating in the photo shoot was an important part of their cancer journey that provided satisfaction and sense of empowerment. “I felt part of something important, of something bigger,” says Irma.
Sharing their experience was also a determining factor in accepting to be photographed, as many felt that in this way they were “giving back” and supporting others.
“I wanted to communicate the importance of getting checked [for breast cancer] and to let people know they are not alone.” (Sandra). I was happy to let other women know that by taking good care of themselves, their story can have a happier ending (Anselma). I had the satisfaction of being able to help, of showing faces of a real problem.” (Verónica). “I was glad to do my bit, no help is too little (Jennifer). I was proud to be able to help, it made me feel brave (Natividad).”
María Luisa Guisa is the Director General of FUCAM. While she aims to see the institution become the most important breast cancer treatment centre in Mexico, she sees her role first and foremost as “working every day to make a significant difference in Mexican women’s lives through early diagnosis and treatment”.
She understands that photographers are able to express in images what words cannot convey, that they can “reach and ‘touch’ and ‘move’ many people, communities and even other countries.”
“I believe that these beautiful pictures really show our work. Everybody must know what we do, so we can touch people’s hearts and continue helping women in need to access treatment.”
– María Luisa Guisa, Director General, FUCAM
Several doctors, also part of the Foundation’s management team, participated in the photoshoot: Dr Felipe Villegras, Medical Director; Dr Betsabé Hernández, Deputy Medical Director and Oncological Surgeon; Dr Juan Alberto Tenorio, Director of Education and Research; Dr Jorge Monges, Head of Medical Services; and Dr Pablo Moreno, Head of Quality in Healthcare.
For them also, allowing a photographer on their premises and to capture the intimacy of their work with patients – what could otherwise be considered an intrusion into their private sphere and that of the people they care for – is an important process in empowering people with cancer, showing their work and inspiring others.
“For a woman with cancer to be able to tell her story through images, how she managed to fight the disease, can help her overcome the difficulties she faces and in turn inspire other women to let go of their fear of this disease.”
– Dr Felipe Villegas, Medical Director, FUCAM