On 01-Sep-2017 In Photography
Nancy Borowick, born in 1985 is a humanitarian photographer currently based on the island of Guam. She is a graduate of the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism program at the International Center of Photography and holds a degree in Anthropology and Photography from Union College. Over the last ten years, Nancy narrowed the focus of her work, telling stories of illness and personal relationships, using compassion, humility, and trust as tools to connect with and explore the lives of her subjects. Nancy’s most recent focus has been her parents’ battles with cancer. In the Spring of 2016, Borowick raised USD 65,313 with the help of 740 backers through a Kickstarter campaign created to fund the development of her book, The Family Imprint, based on the Cancer Family project. When Nancy Borowick's parents were both diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, she knew they didn't have long left. The then 28-year-old said: "I didn't know what to do, or how to support them without falling apart." The freelance photographer started to take pictures as she always had of Howie and Laurel and the images became a poignant record of her parents' final months.
She is a regular contributor to the New York Times and has also been featured in the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times Lens Blog, CNN, National GeographicPROOF, Time Magazine, Photo District News, the Washington Post, Stern Magazine, and Newsweek Japan.
The pictures were taken in the family home where Nancy and her siblings grew up and are candid and intensely intimate.
Nancy said: "My mum had battled breast cancer for 18 years so it was part of our lives but when my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer it was more likely that he wouldn't be around for long. To be honest I didn't think he would last as long as he did."
The photographs show the couple having treatment together as they battle the illness at home and in hospital.Via Nancy Borowick
Nancy said: "The project came with such great responsibility. I had always had a camera slung over my shoulder and so they were used to me taking pictures and it allowed me to spend time with them both.
"They were both such fun to be around. My mum particularly didn't want anyone to be bothered by her illness, she didn't want pity."
"It became a window into my parents as humans."
Howie Borowick died in Dec 2013 almost a year to the day after he had received his diagnosis, but Nancy kept shooting.
In total Nancy took more than 5,000 pictures of her parents battle and this is just a small selection.
Nancy's parents do not shy away from the camera, and sometimes the pictures make you catch your breath.
They are seen clearly in pain and battling but also laughing.
What is clear is her parents love for each other and also the way she loves them.
Nancy said: "My mom never let on about much pain she might have been in. She did not want to be defined by her disease. She wanted to be treated as a normal mum, so I treated her as a normal mum."
She said throughout the process she grew closer to her mum and dad and wanted to show support as they had for her growing up.
Nancy said: "The greatest gift I take away from this whole experience is that I now have an understanding of what life means... of what is important... to not take each day for granted.
"If cancer is what gets me, so be it. I already feel I have lived a pretty lucky life. I loved my parents. I love my siblings. I love my husband."
The pictures show the couple when they are so sick they can't sit up. It's just so painful at times.
In the end, it is the intimacy in the way the pictures capture such a personal event that gives them their power.
Nancy said: "Remember that life is short. Maybe you don't need to wait until your loved one is dying to have this true experience of life."
Nancy says she never intended to share the photographs but showed them to an editor who told her "people will see their story in yours and find comfort."
She ended up publishing her book after raising money on Kickstarter.
She said the response since publishing it has been "overwhelming" .
She said: "I have people write to me from all over the world saying things like 'I have never shared this with anyone before' and telling me how they have been grieving for their parents."
The response to the pictures have helped me not to feel alone.
"It has been wonderful to be able to share my story."That's all, guys. You can reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned!