Photographer Tells Her Cancer Story Through Images
When Kerry Mansfield, a San-Francisco based photographer, was diagnosed with breast cancer, she noticed that media representations of women suffering from the disease were often portrayed as powerful and upbeat. She decided to document her two-year journey through treatment and recovery at every step, including the low moments.
The photographic series, titled “Aftermath” started when Mansfield was diagnosed at age 31. Her first photo reveals her naked torso, long hair and cancerous breast intact. As the series progresses, Mansfield underwent treatment, revealing her right breast with the surgeon’s markings before her procedures, and after she has her breast removed with fresh scar tissue and a completely bald head. The final image is of the artist after she has breast reconstruction surgery, still bald but looking straight into the camera, a striking pose compared to the self-conscious looking down found in some earlier photos.
According to the artist, “These images are of my home – as it was then,” revealing her body as it was at the time of her diagnosis and through her entire cancer journey. When she was diagnosed she was shocked because she ate well and exercised. She felt indestructible up until the doctor’s found the disease. The photographer knew her self-image was about to change drastically at the hands of surgeons and chemical radiation so she chose to document the entire process and share it with the world. Mansfield is now 40-years-old and in remission.
“Aftermath” has won several awards, including the Worldwide Photography Gala Award, LensCulture’s Single Image Grand Prize and a Lucie International Photography Award. The photographs are on display now through Jan. 24, 2015, at San Francisco Camerawork as part of the “Seeing Through: Stories about Cancer & Survival” collaborative exhibit.