Photographing His Own Cancer Treatment: ‘A Hell I Wasn't Ready For’

Mark Richards chronicled his battle with cancer, visualizing the agony he endured.

Comments: 109

  1. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your gift, showing a glimpse of the human suffering behind modern treatment. Your communication through your art is transformative. Wishing you healing.

  2. This is such a powerful project. It was wrenching to look at, however. My husband went through a very similar thing with tongue cancer. When he was through with radiation, the nurses handed him his radiation mask to keep. I wanted to burn it. It represented so much heartache. Hoping that this project will alert more people to these types of cancers.

  3. Thank you, Mark, for sharing your difficult experience with us. I'm sorry you had to endure such pain. Both my wife and I are cancer survivors who believe it is vitally important for patients to face the reality of their condition..and their treatments. And I believe your photographs help in that regard. Better health to you in the future.

  4. Hang in there! I am a two-time breast cancer survivor-no living family, working full time, homeowner. It was very difficult to get through it all. Create a network of friends who can take you to medical appointments, be kind to yourself when your energy goes pffffft, ask for help (tough for this woman), plan ahead for the times when the chemo or steroids wear you down to a nub. Do something that lifts your spirits: music, nature, reading. You will survive this.

  5. I work as a Speech-Language Pathologist and I am privileged and honoured to work with Head and Neck Cancer patients every day. These types of cancers can not only affect one’s ability to eat and drink, but also one’s ability to communicate effectively and clearly, which is a most basic human need. The treatment can be gruelling and the forward momentum can seem slow, but the bravery and tenacity shown by most during their recovery amazes me every day. I consider myself blessed to work with this population.

  6. This is courage. I wish all the best.

  7. Very beautiful work that clearly communicates the strangeness and isolating effect of our medical world, as an artist facing serious medical procedures for the first time I thank you for this inspiration

  8. Really an amazing piece of work. I went through radiation for 5 weeks. Mark Richards captures the darkness, the endlessness and aloneness that I know about. Really a fine job. Thank you NYT.

  9. Thank you Mr Richards for using your gifts to share your journey with us. I have walked with two parents through a complicated cancer journey, and the twists and turns are confusing at best to the newly arrived. I’ve always believed that being informed helps one be more courageous. Every cancer experience is individual, but the challenges we face share common threads. I hope you’ll continue to share your experience.

  10. Thinking of you, Mark Richards! After my 36 radiation treatments, I was certain I would be deeply, deeply exhausted for the rest of my life. It took 13 months for me to feel some energy return. That was over 12 years ago. My hope is that your energy increases, too. We can't get back what we lost, but we can experience renewal. All my best to you!

  11. Mr Richards, Thank you for sharing your intimate photos. As a physician and a patient who received radiation therapy for the same length of time, I can imagine your thoughts and I know your your fatigue. The radiation fatigue is exhausting and follows you for months. Did you get a "graduation diploma" from your radiation therapy team? I did. And I hugged them and thanked them for their care and good wishes. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us. I wish you happy journeys ahead!

  12. Thank you for sharing your story through your photos. I'm so sorry you experienced so much pain. God bless and wishing you good health as you move forward.

  13. You are amazing. You are so strong. Thank you for documenting your journey, you give others strength.

  14. These are really extraordinary photographs. It's the kind of subject many people avoid reading about (I know I do) but the photographs grab a hold of you in a way that's not so easy to dodge.

  15. I found these images very moving. To see that this artist worked so hard to be within his art form while experiencing this. Exceptional work.

  16. Very powerful. I wish you well and I hope this is it... no more radiation. I am also a photographer, and was diagnosed with node positive bladder cancer in 1999. I photographed myself [or had others do it] through chemo and surgery. It helped me get through and marked the pathway of the journey through cancerland. Looking back, it feels like some of the photos recapped the scene in "The Godfather" where he wails, "Look what they did to my boy!" I am still here-- but look what I went through!

  17. An amazing collaboration of science and art...basically lauding the tenacity of the human spirit. All the best in your recovery!!

  18. You are so brave and strong. Good luck Mr. Richards.

  19. Thank you Mr Richards for sharing this journey. I wish you well in a complete, hopefully pain free recovery. Your photographs are both haunting and illuminating. Health is precious.

  20. Living can be difficult enough at times. Surviving through immense physical pain is something else. You inspire me, Mr. Richards, and I hope you will see many brighter days. Thank you for sharing your story and your will to recover.

  21. Thank you so much for sharing your story. A picture is a worth a thousand words. The pain you have endured puts other problems into perspective. It makes me appreciate the things we take for granted, every day.

  22. This is what courage looks like. Wishing you continued recovery and joyful experiences.

  23. Mark.....Your story touched me. As someone who has faced several diagnoses since the age of 15, I understand the emotional/physical toll of pain and the grit it takes to power through. And, though one may have friends and family for support, in the end, survival is a solitary fight. The photographs convey so much more about your struggle than words can describe. Thank you for sharing your pain, for it helps others to know they are not alone. I hope the future brings you Light at Night.....

  24. Thank you for this close-up,personal and painful look at cancer treatment. I admire your courage for documenting your treatment with photos. Hopefully this may provide others with some insight and empathy towards those undergoing cancer treatment. My treatment is different but sadly I am currently undergoing treatment for metastatic breast cancer after being cancer free for almost twelve years. It is not pretty or easy. We will likely all be affected by cancer in some way, either ourselves or a loved one. Reach out today in some kind way towards someone you know who is undergoing cancer treatment. It really helps.

  25. My heart is with you. I was diagnosed with cervical dystonia, a rare neurological disorder 8 years ago, and I have good and bad days. Pain is always there, but learning to rest during the day at intervals, yoga, and meditation has helped. Never did I think that I would be faced with this in my life, but I'm determined to go on with the " new normal," as much as I dismayed that this would happen to me. I hope your life continues to improve, and somehow you find joy in every day.

  26. Thank you for sharing your struggle. I admire your strength and resilience. Your story and the powerful images are motivational. I wish you well with your recovery and healing.

  27. Brave, bold, insightful, and very emotional. I hope never to see another medical self-document by Mr Richards again. Artist, heal thyself.

  28. Could anything be more akin to torture than the techniques that must be used to save this man? The radiation mask looks like a victim in a permanent scream.

  29. Thank you for sharing your pain with us. I am moved to tears, as they say. OMG how awful for you and all the best for whatever future awaits you. cvt

  30. Photography is very strong -- right on. I had different cancer, but that's what it is like.

  31. What courage. Thank you for these brutal, insightful pictures. I cried. I wish you well and hope you never have to write about this for yourself again. Godspeed.

  32. It’s hard for me to imagine after all our technological gains why is a joint still hand rolled and look like something from the zigzag man back in the 60’s? Cancer certainly is no fun, it’s nice that getting high helps, even though it’s hardly a replacement for losing twenty or thirty pounds of muscle.

  33. Like so many, I’ve lived a hell like this with and through a loved one. Torture. Well done realism. Art is powerful therapy.

  34. Mr. Richards, I'm a therapeutic bodyworker who has worked with a gent with salivary gland cancer. If I may suggest that once your skin heals post-radiation it would be efficacious to find a bodyworker who does scar-tissue release work. The shortening of the soft-tissue in your neck & face can be alleviated through this type of work. This is not deep work. Another suggestion is to keep your mouth hydrated. Water is not an effective mechanism for this. I recommend sugar-free lemon drops. The citric acid in them can pull a couple tsps from the remaining salivary glands, & will help keep the mucosa moist. I wish you the best recovery possible.

  35. Nobody who has not lived with constant encompansing pain can understand what is involved in pain close to the brain. Of course the brain feels nothing, but the nerves that leave the brain are a different story. I wish nothing but good luck to Mr. Richards. He has been through the fire that many of us still endure.

  36. Absolutely stunning bravery!

  37. Thank you for sharing the visual intimacy of cancer treatment. I advocate for people, many of whom are undergoing cancer treatment, and I don't think I fully appreciated the rawness of the experience before seeing these pictures. May your suffering be matched with life.

  38. I wish Mr. Richards nothing but complete and perfect and permanent peace from pain and suffering. I have nothing for Mr. Richards than absolute respect and awe.

  39. This is a pretty horrible article but it is not unique. There are a hundred thousand or more like it right now. There are others, like me, who will spend not just a few months but the rest of their lives in constant chemotherapy. What is common to all these stories is we learn, if we didn't already know, that we are not special and that nobody is going to do this for you. So you just do it. Life is tough. But it just is, and there is no if or but or except. You take what you're given because the alternative is usually worse if only a little.

  40. just wish you the best of luck and a speedy recovery.

  41. Well done. Thank you.

  42. A journey, in stunning visuals! Private spaces reserved for the afflicted. Masks, a bit frightening. Screaming? Pain coupled to thoughts of suicide. Pot, better than Opioids! (Thanks for that info) My mother had this type of treatment, her neck skin also burned, and she refused all assistance. Now I wonder how much pain she was in, and I wish I had done more for her, despite her refusals.

  43. I'm glad Mr. Richards is doing better, and I'll hope for a durable recovery and many more years of fulfillment and productive living. But I have to ask, what do we learn from this article? Why was it published? I think it would be perfect for a personal blog, or side by side on a site with Mr. Richards' work. I imagine Mr. Richards has health insurance. Many people don't, or they fall into poverty making the co-payments on their high-deductible plans. I would have preferred to see a huge amount of real estate devoted to their cancer journeys.

  44. What did we learn? - for a few minutes we got to put ourselves in the shoes of a Cancer patient and what they endure. For many, and I hope most, those few minutes were well spent, thanks to a very talented photographer who shared his personal struggle with cancer.

  45. Cancer wounds on many levels. The diagnosis, treatments, and recovery . . . or not. . . is trauma. The question on whether and/or when to bring in the camera is a tough one to figure out. Thank you for doing so on the behalf of countless patients and their families. Pictures can be a powerful and effective tool in working through the trauma.

  46. Bless you, Mark. I do daily photography with my iPhone, also, and it is a great way of "dealing with life" when other things are problematic, if not horrific, as they have been for you. Wishing all the best.

  47. beautifully done, sensitive story. Thank you for sharing. Your art comes through with every image, it must have been part of how you endured and how you will recover.

  48. I can’t even fathom what you have gone through. Your pictures are simply speechless and fantastic! How talented you are that during these most difficult times your creative mind works! Hopefully that is distracting you from what is hurting you the most. Wish you a speedy recovery ! Look forward to the next set of pictures!

  49. I've followed Mark's work for years. Knowing him through that work, I'm not surprised that he chose to document this most personal of struggles. Here's wishing you continued success in your recovery, Mark, and in your ongoing mission to show "truth with a camera," to quote Cliff Edom.

  50. Cancer is inhumane. I send you peace.

  51. Maybe it is important for cancer patients to know that the surgery, radiation and other treatments aren't necessarily as painful for everyone as what Mr. Richards experienced. I had similar surgery at UT Southwest in December, had chemotherapy once a week for five weeks, radiation therapy five days a week for a tad over seven weeks. I really didn't experience much pain, and I didn't have the feelings of doom inside any of the machines I visited regularly: PET scans, CT scans and MRI scans. They were more like little adventures that I came to enjoy. I saved my mask, too, but tossed it after a few weeks. Last week I had all those scans again at my six-month mark and my surgeon and radiologists pronounced me clear of cancer. Big time relief for all those around me, and I feel pretty good about it, too. So far, the only residual pain is that my neck is a bit burned, still, and the nerve that runs along where Mr. Richards showed his scar, is still sensitive to touch. I'm 85 and my docs say I'm good for another 15 years. I hope not.

  52. @Muskateer Al Congratulations, I hope you make it to 100 or more.

  53. Thank you for taking the time to write your experience and congratulations on being cancer free. I write this as my husband, who is in his 30s, is scheduled to start brain radiation in less than 2 wks. None of the doctors warned us about the pain induced by radiation and reading your comment, I’m glad that doesn’t happen to everyone. I hope you continue to live a healthy life.

  54. Now, Mr. Richards, may you always be well, regain your strength, and live your life with joy; I wish you the best of health always.

  55. So incredibly brave. I wish him well.

  56. I went through 2 rounds of radiation on two separate occasions for bi lateral breast cancer. It’s hard to explain the kind of extreme fatigue that you experience. The shower picture is particularly evocative. 2 Years later I still struggle with fatigue from time to time. It will continue to get better. Thank-you for sharing your experience.

  57. Well done. You captured some of the horrors. It brought back vivid memories of my husbands treatments, and side effects. Oh that personalized mask. Thank you for being of sound mind to show others what it is like.

  58. This is beautiful: so bold, honest, searing in its emotions. I have never seen photos of these kinds of treatments but I know people who have experienced radiation. You were daring, Mark, to take these photos and to reveal your pain as well as the amazing technologies that- hopefully- save lives only by causing patients excruciating physical and emotional pain first. What can we say about medical advances that cost so much in order to save our lives- sometimes. How much are we will to go through to maybe heal ourselves? What fires will we walk through and how do they change us in addition to removing the physical causes of our original diagnoses? I hope, hope, hope there are really good support groups out there for people going through these experiences. Being human includes so much suffering, even when you are trying to get well. Thank you, Mark.

  59. Wow. This is a powerful piece. Thank you, Mr. Richards, for your bravery and courage. I hope the rest of your life is full of peace and beauty and may your next photography project be full of joy.

  60. We’re all pulling for you!

  61. Thank you for your honest, emotional documentation.

  62. I work in a cancer clinic and while the lighting is not always flattering, it is not the mysterious or foreboding shade of green seen in these photos. I interpret this as artistic license - Mr Richards conveying how through his art how the experience made him feel. This was clearly a difficult and painful experience for him. I feel fortunate to work with people who are compassionate and caring. Despite our best efforts to ease the difficulty of the going through cancer treatment, it can still be overwhelming. I wish him the best with his recovery.

  63. I hurt for you and I humbly thank you for sharing. Your photographs showed us all your difficult journey. But your last photograph—hmmm...your last photograph showed us that determination. Powerful.

  64. I went through treatment for throat cancer- caused by HPV, not lifestyle - three years ago. No surgery because the tumors were too large, but same drill with chemo and radiation. The mask now holds vines in our garden. The aftereffects of the radiation treatment made me think I was going to die. No way I was going to take all those photos, but I'm glad you did. Stay the course, mate. It does get better.

  65. @salgal Thank you Ya the after effects...... No body tells you about that. But how could they Thanks for the encouragement I still many miles to go on this road of pain

  66. It can be a thin line between that which is beautiful and that which is heinous. Your bravery and candor allow these images to transcend these two extremes. I too am a cancer survivor, living through my own challenge. Thank you for sharing yours.

  67. Carry on, soldier.

  68. Thank you for your powerful honesty. For me, you have shed a light on my sister’s reality of pancreatic cancer. I accompany her and her husband to weekly chemo treatments. Hopefully, she’ll be able to have radiation treatments in the future. Your grace abounds in thoughts and photos. My heart holds a space for you and your journey. I am in the stands, cheering for you.

  69. Mr. Richards has a particularly painful kind of cancer and has had difficult surgery, but he shouldn't demonize radiological diagnosis and treatment. MRIs and PET scans are revolutionary advances in medicine, noninvasive and completely painless (I've had both, and as a former physicist I found them fun and fascinating). Claustrophobic people may experience them differently, but that's purely psychological. (With children, they've found painting them to look like a pirate adventure eliminates the fear). I don't presume to be an expert on his case, but the throat burns result from improperly using X-ray radiation therapy. Proton RT might have avoided the burns and been more effective. It's particularly suitable for head and neck cancers.

  70. Your photographs illustrate the horrible intimacy of the medical treatment you endured - it could happen to anyone, but it happened to you. Thank you, Mark. I hope you are feeling better.

  71. It's a compelling story, but I'm concerned that focusing on the "agony" of cancer treatment, you increase the fear of modern medicine and may discourage treatable patients from seeking appropriate medical care. By far the best prognostic indicator for cancers is early detection. There are a lot more options for treating state 2 cancer, than stage 4. I had chemo 15 years ago for an aggressive lymphoma. Yes my hair fell out, and I slept a lot in the first week of each chemo cycle, but I was never in serious pain. Never threw up. Didn't waste away.... I actually gained weight! I even went snowboarding for a week right before my last chemo treatment! Cancer treatments should not be feared. The *cancers* are terrible. The sooner you can kill them, the better off you are. If you know something is "not right" don't delay. Get it checked out! Steve Jobs basically killed himself by delaying the start of aggressive cancer treatment for a year. What should have been treatable ended up killing him because he waited too long. That is the real horror people should fear.

  72. @Nobody I don’t believe this would stop people from getting g treatment. They’re not all the same and people typically do research prior to chemo/radiation commencing.

  73. As the daughter of two parents who died much too young of breast and lung cancers, I’m glad that your experience was manageable, to the extent that you were able to go skiing. As well, that you were able to catch the disease early on. My father wasn’t so fortunate, only having minor discomfort in his hip while driving his manual-transmission car. He went in for an examination, and cancer was found throughout his body. Despite the best efforts of modern medicine, he died less than two months later. My point is that your experience is yours, like every battle with this horrendous disease. Not all sufferers are so fortunate, and not all are able to catch it early on.

  74. Thank you for sharing this this very human experience.

  75. thank you. As a fellow cancer endurer, you showed what cancer and treatment is really like.

  76. My brother was killed by cancer last year at the age of 69, four years after his diagnosis and after five surgeries and crippling radiation and chemo. He knew there was no cure, but he "fought," encouraged by his surgeon, but not by his medical oncologist. Each surgery was followed by two to three weeks in hospital. The last year of his life was miserable. Yet, less than a week before his death, his surgeon, a respected physician, wanted to try "one more thing." Exhausted at last, my brother said no and went to our sister's house to die. Morphine allowed him to pass without pain, as far as we know. During the same period a long-term friend "battled" pancreatic cancer. He, too, suffered, and died two months ago. Near the end I had one question for each of them, which I did not ask: Was it worth it? After watching them die I decided that it would not be worth it to me to endure so much suffering and to force my wife, children, sister, other family, and friends to watch. Death comes to us all. The only question is: How? I am fortunate to live in a state that has a Death With Dignity law. When my time comes, which it will, and if inevitable death is not sudden and will not be quick, I hope to be able to accept it and to die in peace. In such cases I think the notion of "fighting" is itself a kind of sickness.

  77. @17Airborne—Do not imagine that you can know how you will react should you ever be faced with a chance at living vs. accepting death. I have known people I was certain were doomed (one with advanced ovarian cancer, usually incurable) who "fought," as you put it, and lived. My sister endured three episodes of chemo for breast cancer, suffered, and died. I swore that I would choose not to be treated beyond surgery if I ever had cancer, but when the time came, I willingly went to the cancer center for treatment, and I'm glad I did. I survived, I'm alive, and there really isn't anything that can replace that.

  78. Mr. Richard, thank you for your kindness and bravery for this medical documentation. Your action reminds us of our fragility, mortality and often takes life for granted. Best wishes.

  79. As others have noted, photography is a way to present a powerful view of what has happened, and it enhances the words and therefore the full understanding of what is going on. In this case, it conveys the treatment and ultimately the humanity that Mark Richards displayed. As a photographer, I appreciate how he has presented a very personal look at dealing with a disease. And as a fellow resident of San Rafael, I hope he is able to get back and run many more trails around Mt. Tam

  80. Mr. Richards, you are a brave man. I hope that this challenge is the one and only you must face and will pray for your ongoing recovery and strength.

  81. Wow, just wow. Mark Richards is one of the most talented photojournalists in the world and has been for decades. And this is an extraordinary body of work - honest, immediate, searing and beautiful. You will recover - have faith in that - though your life will never be the same. Hope you do not have a repeat!

  82. Powerful photos. I was diagnosed with a virally induced tongue/throat cancer in February and completed a 7 week regimen of radiation treatment 5 days a week plus chemo once a week at the end of April. Looking at these photographs was surreal and captured the emotion for me from the outside in as I'd worn the mask, experienced the scans, but had never been able to capture in my mind's eye what I looked like from the outside in. Thank you.

  83. I had 34 treatments of radiation for neck cancer in 2011 at age 54, caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). I first had surgery where the physician used a machine to remove a small tumor with a robotic arm that made the surgery less invasive. The radiation treatments started a few weeks later. By the third treatment, my taste buds started to disappear, and it became more and more difficult to swallow food. My whole day consisted of, managing pain, getting food down, and sleeping. I was off work for 5 months. I realized during the treatment, that it had taken part of my life out of me, and that I would never be the same again. While I am living a great life now, I still have to be vigilant about what I eat, and will not put any food in my mouth without having water available to wash it down lest it get caught in my throat and I choke to death. Radiation to the head has to be one of the worst treatments a person can endure.

  84. I'm glad he survived this first round. What he couldn't show were the other people also going through their own hell, waiting for their turn on the table, like a ride at Disney. All with their own stories as compelling as Richards. It happens every day all across America.

  85. It's almost harder to know what is worse: the treatment or the disease. Both look excruciating.

  86. Similar to other comments I had cancer of the tongue for the first time in 2004 at the age of 54. Had MOHS surgery followed by 7 weeks of radiation. Mr. Richards photos brought me back to those dark days. When my cancer returned 9 and 1/2 years later in 2013, I had to have half my tongue removed, but I refused to have further radiation. I learned to talk again and thankfully can eat soft foods & swallow most things except big pills. I have fought for California's End-of-Life-Option Act. No one should be forced to endure this kind of treatment unless they have a strong will to survive.

  87. @Nancy Jacobsen Mark Richards here. Strong thoughts from you... I have thought the same. I hope never to have to face what you have. You are the real brave one.................

  88. Moving, so moving. Thank you.

  89. Reading this article, looking at these pictures, took me back to my own radiation treatment following a breast cancer lumpectomy 30 years ago. Radiation is surreal, a venture into a world where you are allowing people to do things to you that would seem monstrous in any other context. I consider myself lucky, obviously because I have had no recurrence of breast cancer, but also because, up until the last week of treatment (5 weeks of daily electron radiation and 1 week of cobalt), I did not experience the extreme fatigue I was told to expect. I walked (slowly) the 20 blocks from my office to the hospital where I was treated, then took a bus home and rested. I continued to work mornings until the last week of treatment. I was told that, because my skin is thin and sensitive, treatment might have to be interrupted due to severe burning and cracking. My husband suggested using pure aloe vera gel, and he got some at a health food store—pure, no color, no additives. Immediately after radiation, before I got dressed, I slathered it on gently, again when I got home, and again before I went to bed. I had to delicately wash it off before the next treatment, and repeated this process every time. My breast became red and the flesh stiff, but within a couple of months, the skin looked quite normal. I know how lucky I have been and I hope that Mr. Richards will never again have to go through what he endured. His incredible courage is inspiring and he has earned a break.

  90. Cancer is a bitch, no question. And while only the brave and persistant can endure the pain, which noted at times drives some to suicide or families to petition for legalizing suicide by choice with medical help, there is something a bit more sinister to this article. The author and editor do tell of the journey through treatment and the pain associated with it. But lacking was the sympathy that I've witnessed first hand from those technicians and nurses who administer the treatments, the medications and oversee the process. Somehow, here they are left as detached, seemingly uncaring. Perhaps they are counting their lucky stars that it isn't them who is carrying their radiation mask to the treatment room. Advances in both diagnosis and treatment are vast over the last generation. I feel this article is in part fear mongering, emphasizing the discomfort and pain he experienced while battling this 1% of 1% cancer. The people offering care, support and consolation deserve far more than this. I assume the selection of pictures was entirely his. While I feel for his plight, I did not find his choice helpful in giving people with cancer hope. Cancer is a bitch.

  91. @reid 1. "The author and editor do tell of the journey through treatment and the pain associated with it. But lacking was the sympathy that I've witnessed first hand from those technicians and nurses who administer the treatments, the medications and oversee the process. Somehow, here they are left as detached, seemingly uncaring" And you know this how? Stories are edited ( not by me ) For all you know I said that a lot of all of those people helped me ( I did). This is a story of what I saw and only a small part of what I saw. Everyone of those people that treated me was thanked EVERYDAY. I just saw those people that treated me last week.. they were thankful of the story....But you already decided that they deserve more... ( and you knew ....because ?) I appreciate your point of view... but one should always be humble in these matters and not always "know" where everybody is coming from. The picture selections are the NYT. I think they did a good edit. Allow that this is but one point of view. This does not disregard other points of view. I made this point of view because I had not seen it .... Please allow that there are always many ways to see a story..... I am humbled that you allowed me to see yours. Mark Richards----I am showing MY Story

  92. Mr. Richardson’s chosen purpose was to chronicle his very personal experience of the hellish pain he endured; his was not intended to be a puff piece celebrating medical staff, nor was it intended to buoy other cancer patients. It is in fact true that cancer pain can reach levels of intensity that block everything else out of consciousness. It is also patently false to state, as many cancer support sites and cancer specialists aver, that all cancer pain can be effectively controlled. There is nothing “sinister” about that; it is just a fact. And by offering his own personal point of view in his photographic essay, Mr. Richardson is doing all of us a service — a service that took courage and honesty.

  93. @Robert Many thanks. Well said. Mark Richards

  94. I have been invited to have two scans, neck and torso. If I was reluctant before, I am now concerned beyond consolidation. I appreciate the generosity of this professional photographer for sharing his experience.

  95. @Martin M. Leftoff Don't worry... Scan's easy...... Radiation different story ....but it affects everyone different.. You gotta try. Mark

  96. What a brave choice to document yourself in such a vulnerable state. The photos are evocative and terrifying. I am glad Mr. Richards is doing well after his treatment and wish him all the best.

  97. This story hit me personally in so many ways. When I saw the radiation mask, I thought of a dear friend who passed three years ago after her struggle with metastatic colon cancer. And when I read of Mark’s experience with trigeminal neuralgia, I could relate – because I have been dealing with that unpleasant condition for the past four years. Fortunately for me, medication has made my TN bearable. The photograph of Mark in the shower, struggling with the sheer effort of standing up to wash himself, though – that one I can truly relate to. I have been diagnosed with ALS, and taking a shower has changed from a simple daily task to a monumental undertaking. I, too, have been documenting my experiences. So far, I have confined my documentation to writing, but photographs will certainly be a part of my story as I continue my journey. Telling that story is therapeutic, as I am sure Mark has found. All I can do is to thank him for sharing something so powerful and intimate... and wish him good health in the future.

  98. Cancer has taken so many of my friends and family, heartening to read of your difficult journey. I too turned to photography after a heart attack a few years ago. As a tool for encountering life, and bringing reflection to that, it is unique, and somehow very humane. Thank you for sharing your outcomes and glad you are with us.

  99. There is NOTHING like lying on that table in the dark with the red lines aligning on your body, hearing the machines, acutely aware that you’ve invited talented, caring professionals to poison you for a while, and praying that the poison works. When people ask me what radiation was like, and they really want to know, I will send them to this article.

  100. @Lindsey That is one GREAT description. I was I could say it in words as well as you. Mark Richards

  101. Thank you for sharing. This was a very personal and intimate look at an unimaginable journey. I applaud the courage that went into this whole project.

  102. Trigeminal Neuralgia (I have it and thankfully my meds are working, but I recall a time when they were not...) I would not wish it on anyone. You went through that, *and* cancer. My head is spinning just thinking about it. My little brother had throat cancer (lymph nodes) and they caught it in time. He too wore (and hated) his radiation mask and also endured chemo. I would LOVE to give you a great big HUG! A bunch of hugs! I sincerely hope you are feeling better. I cannot imagine dealing with both maladies at once. <3 Love and Hugs to a brave person. The world is better for your presence. Today you are my hero. Patty

  103. Mark, thank you for this story. I thought I would write cancer haiku throughout my treatment but couldn't focus on anything. The photo of you leaning in the shower sort of rocked me. I put one of my outdoor dining chairs in the shower and still had to go to bed to recover. I hope your post surgery and radiation symptoms recede-I just passed my give year anniversary and still don't have my palate back but missing wines (and most anything with heat or acid) is a small price to pay. Good wishes to you

  104. Good luck to you sir.

  105. This was gripping; thank you for your bravery in documenting and sharing these moments.

  106. I appreciate that you've shared the raw, awful truths of your experience. Thank you. I recently finished breast cancer treatment. March diagnosis, April first mastectomy, May second mastectomy, July through August radiation therapy. Something I have mixed emotions about are the words used to describe cancer patients as, such as brave, courageous and strong when the truth is, some of us, especially children going through this nightmare, are emotionally petrified and weak. I begged every night that God would take me in my sleep. Instead, I put one foot in front of the other subjecting myself to knives, sutures, drain lines, pain, treatment burns, blisters, infections and daily radiation zaps on top of all of that. Why? For the people who love and need me. They suffered way more than I did as they witnessed me fight day in and day out. They were my reason to put one foot in front of the other to move forward and slay the damn thing. Their love is what carried me through. I was never brave, courageous or strong. I was determined. For their sakes because they are my life and I am theirs.

  107. OMG! This is terrifying. I sincerely hope you get better soon. Thank you very much for sharing this personal moment with us. I wish more men would open up about this sort of thing because so many men are ignorant about sickness, medical procedures and wellness in general. Stay Strong. Keep Fighting. I hope the Lord brings you Peace and Many Blessings.

  108. I am very touched by the story and the pictures. Corrently I am writing a paper interpreting photographies of males fighting the cancer, since my father recently died because of it. How is the situation od Mr. Richards now?

  109. I wish to thank all that have written I follow in the steps of giants I am so very touched by all your words Thank you I am doing more with this subject... you all have made sure I will with your words, thank you. Mark