Updated: Dec 10, 2019
I was given the opportunity to be part of Singapore Cancer Society's 55th anniversary campaign called 55 Faces of SCS. The project involved taking portraits of 54 individuals who are cancer survivors, beneficiaries, staff and champions of SCS.
Right from the start I knew each portrait needs to be more than just an image of a face. I wanted the portraits to pull in the audience to find out more about the stories of these individuals.
With each sitting, the experience is different. I took the time to listen to their stories and to get to know their relationship with cancer on a more intimate level, and was very humbled that some of them opened up their hearts to me. I saw tears, and I saw smiles.
Almost all of the cancer survivors, patients, and caregivers spoke about the importance of acceptance in their cancer journey. This really struck a chord with me as I view acceptance as the first step towards moving forward, and maybe potentially recovering from my own cancer. I heard stories similar to mine, and some where the individual had to go through life changing conditions. I shared my own story with some of them and exchanged hugs and words of encouragement at the end of the session.
Most also spoke about not treating cancer as a death sentence. They spoke of their families and children being their pillars of strength. They spoke about their discovery of hope, faith and love.
One individual commented that I was trying to make her cry and that she did not want to appear sad in her portrait. I told her that I was merely asking her to relive her cancer journey, and that she should embrace whatever emotion that comes to her. I told her what a blessing it is to be in touch with your emotions and that it is something I struggle with personally.
I think these emotions are important, and the message I'm hoping to send across here is that it is alright to be sad. Sadness must not be mistaken for pessimism. In fact is is the root of optimism, because it is only after grief that hope can come.
I'm sharing some of the portraits of individuals that touched me here. I hope if you look beyond the obvious, you will see a message of strength and hope. You can find out more about their stories at SCS's campaign page.
If you know anyone with cancer that you think can benefit from getting in touch with Singapore Cancer Society, you can get in touch with them here. Or if you feel like giving back to society and haven't found your way in doing so, you can always contact SCS. They do engage a lot of volunteers in their work with cancer.
You could also contribute by donating here.