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The Project and the Book

Required reading in the Master of Arts in Counseling: Art Therapy and the PhD in Art Therapy Departments at Adler University, Chicago campus.

Personal and intimate moments frozen in time.

Let these photographs and my thoughts be your guide; print out, write notes, show images to your doctors, and ask them to compare it to the journey you’re about to embark on. There is a normalcy intertwined with the chaotic stress involved in being a cancer patient. All cancers are different, and I can only speak to what I’ve gleaned personally from my experiences. Much of what I’ve learned is universal among cancer patients.

Title 1 Cancer Patient
A unique photo journal
to guide difficult cancer conversations

Creator Traci Asher
Place of Publication Los Angeles, CA
Publication Date 2023
Number of Images 100
Number of Pages 238
Dimensions 6” x 9 “

The Patient

Becoming the subject of a photographic series about breast cancer has been one of the scariest and most meaningful decisions I’ve ever made. 1 Cancer Patient visually chronicles many aspects of a fight with this disease. Personal and intimate moments, frozen in time, reveal that strength, beauty, and humor are still possible even amidst surgeries, hair loss, chemo treatments, and normally mundane struggles of everyday life. This project is intended to unmask the unknown that comes with a cancer diagnosis and show that a good (though altered) life is possible and bring a sense of calm to anyone facing their own battle. Each time my life was turned upside down with another diagnosis, I was given the gift of a new opportunity to expose and explain more about being a cancer patient.

I kept hearing the same questions and concerns that spanned across all different kinds of cancer, which gave me the idea to expand my project and shape its content to revolve around those questions. For example:

  • Is chemo the same as chemotherapy? Yes, but using the shorthand chemo can be a more palatable term to say out loud.
  • Does receiving chemo hurt? No, but there are many different kinds of chemotherapy, and they all have different side effects.

You are your best advocate. 1 Cancer Patient wants to help prepare you for the fight ahead.

Covered – Diagnosis 2
Photographer Warren Perlstein
Breast Cancer – Diagnosis 1
Photographer Georgina Cates
New Me 1 – Diagnosis 1
Photographer Georgina Cates

The Art

On the day of my first diagnosis, I made the decision to photograph and journal my life as a cancer patient.  Initially, it was to remember what I looked like before and compare it to my new self when I was finished. Over the years, photo-journaling my fight with this life-threatening disease evolved into so much more—it became a witness, a meditation, and a testament.

When we see ourselves represented in art, we can find unity and courage—even during our deepest battles. Each cancer diagnosis creates its own story, of which we are forced to become the author. While we may share a diagnosis and be united against this disease, ultimately we are each 1 cancer patient. 

New Me 2 – Diagnosis 2
Photographer Warren Perlstein

The Photographers

Warren Perlstein is not only a photographer, but also my father. His photographs portray life’s delicate balance in the world of a cancer patient. These images are the heart of the project.

Georgina Cates’ photographs help narrate the beginning of my story. Shooting primarily in black and white, she hoped to evoke the mixed emotions a woman feels when a major medical event wreaks havoc on the physical body she has spent her life growing into.

When I needed to fill in missing parts of my story, I called on my friend and gifted photographer, Stacy Cain.

Thank you to my husband and my family and friends for the photographs that add love and care to these pages. Their images are the beauty in the mundane. A day in the life of a Thriver.

Family – Diagnosis 1-3
Friends – Diagnosis 1-3
Selfies And More – Diagnosis 1-3