Creative Coping Through Photographs

2

By Kat Caverly

kat-caverly-031614In the book “Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient” Norman Cousins explains that creativity is an effective therapy. I devoured this book during one of my three-hour chemotherapy infusions of Taxol. I was filled with such hope. I knew then I would be fine.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. As my mind struggled on what to do with this cancer diagnosis, I instinctively reached for my camera. But instead of looking through the lens at a subject or scenery, I turned it on myself. In addition to keeping a daily written journal, decided I would shoot a daily self-portrait to record what I was feeling.

The portraits are in chronological order; they start right before I was told I have breast cancer and end on my triumphant emergence after the final radiation treatment. In between, the photos show me dancing, singing, and laughing. During the Taxol treatments, I was given a heavy dose of steroids; six pills the night before, another six pills in the morning, then an IV of dexamethasone. I was flying high, so I took every advantage of the energy this drug fueled and it shows in the photos. I looked like me and I looked marvelous — regardless of what I might have been feeling on the inside.

It was a difficult time during treatment, but every day I could look forward to the distraction of turning on my lights, my camera, and shooting three frames of the daily portrait. I was filled with a joyous sense of accomplishment.


I did it for myself and I’m glad I did. Looking at all the self-portraits, I can remember what I went through, but I’m seeing it through my own creativity. The smiles on my face, even the funny grimaces or my “pirate face,” help me remember this time with some fondness, oddly enough.

It’s been nine months since I got the phone call: “You have breast cancer.” Since then, I have shot more than 3,000 photographs where I create characters, and play with costumes and props. I am, in a word, inspired. My next project will be a weekly series for a time-lapse of my hair growing back over the course of six months. In the final video I will revolve around as my hair sprouts like a chia pet.

There is so much more to come and I look forward to every moment. I will have the photographs, and videos to show for it.

Read more from Kat on her blog or follow her on Twitter @KatCaverly.

Comments Sort By Newest

2 thoughts on “Creative Coping Through Photographs

  1. You have done an amazing job…the camera can help heal all kinds of wounds…
    I started my photography journey when my younger brother was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2000. Don’t let the camera go…take it into your future…
    Wishing you Blessings and many cancer free years…

  2. You have done an amazing job…the camera can help heal all kinds of wounds…
    I started my photography journey when my younger brother was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2000. Don’t let the camera go…take it into your future…
    Wishing you Blessings and many cancer free years…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image
Refresh

*

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
RT @TheJimmyFund: During the 2007 Radio-Telethon, Jordan ran the bases at @fenwaypark. He's back today & cancer-free! #KCANCER https://t.co
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Symptoms of throat cancer include changes in the voice, trouble swallowing, and ear pain. More signs to look for: https://t.co/E3qRFBACHg
Dana-Farber @danafarber
RT @TheJimmyFund: .@JackieBradleyJr jumps on the phone at the Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon! #KCANCER https://t.co/DI4V4sBD6a https://t.co/8R5p

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-442-3324

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.