I knew by the stillness that settled into the room that my reality was changed. I looked at my doctor: “You think it’s cancer.”“Yes.”
What does cancer look like? Chemo? And a mastectomy? In the changing room at the hospital, I stood photographing my breasts, wanting to remember my body just as it was. Under these dim lights, standing in front of a mirror with my camera, I began to feel less like breast cancer was happening to me and more like I was trying to learn about it. Perhaps if I used my camera to explore something I feared terribly, perhaps it wouldn’t be so scary after all. Perhaps I could move through this by focusing on capturing the moment, letting the camera redefine me: from “cancer patient” to “curious observer”.
I began my chemotherapy on February 14th, 2013, Valentine’s Day, and I invited Elizabeth to photograph along side me.
With these photographs, it is my hope to demystify, if only slightly, the fears, misunderstandings and ill-associations surrounding disease. Because even in my darkest hours, I am not fighting a battle or trying to win a war. I am simply living moment to moment with cancer.
Amelia Coffaro (b 1984) is a photographer born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work is rooted in her connection with nature and the relationship between her and her two sisters who inspire pretty little things. Amelia’s most recent work, self portrait with Luminaries, begins to explore her deep fascination with bioluminescent creatures of both land and sea.
In February 2013, Amelia discovered she had a rare form of breast cancer and was temporarily relocated back to her home in Wisconsin where she began chemo theraphy treatment on Valentine’s Day. Along the way, she has documented her experience and taken to her camera as a way to become a “curious observer” of her illness with the hopes of demystifying for herself and others the fears surrounding cancer.
Elizabeth Griffin has worked as a photo editor, strategic partnerships manager, and social media producer for the past decade. Committed to smashing the glass ceiling, she is delighted to host this panel with such talented, accomplished, and outstanding women.
Project Amelia is an all-volunteer effort organized by friends and family of 28-year-old freelance photographer, Amelia Coffaro. Amelia was diagnosed in February 2013 with Stage 3b Inflammatory Breast Cancer. At the time, Amelia, like many young professionals, was uninsured.
Because of the aggressive nature of her cancer, doctors insisted Amelia begin treatment right away. On February 14, 2013, Valentine’s Day, she began chemotherapy.
The nature of this treatment makes it nearly impossible for Amelia to work and as the costs are high, all of us at Project Amelia are working to raise funds for her medical bills. Our fundraising goal is $100,000.
Please join us in our effort by spreading the word and making a donation. Every cent counts.