When I was ill - PhMuseum

When I was ill

Alyona Kochetkova


I was diagnosed with cancer on my 29th birthday. I didn’t know anything about it and couldn’t imagine what way I was to go: from fear for my life to hope for recovery. During the treatment I shot a series of photographs. I didn't want just to document all the stages or make a frightening story. My goal was to create visually striking images, which I hope could help people understand what a person facing a serious disease feels like.

The cancer diagnosis makes people feel frightened, though they can hardly understand what it is. There are many false stereotypes and a lot of wrong information about people who survived or are still struggling with cancer. This often leads to social stigmatization of this group. Quite often healthy people just do not want to hear about it, and sometimes cancer patients are even treated as miserable “living dead”. Research studies show that this problem is urgent even in developed countries, where attitude towards special groups of people is more positive in general.

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  • The diagnosis was unexpected. I was scared of the unknown. My anxiety began to grow.

  • I felt there were some changes in my life, but I didn’t fully realize them.

  • The illness made me reassess my entire life. I was consumed by multiple thoughts.

  • Intravenous therapy drew a line under my past. That was the beginning of my struggle for recovery.

  • Having meals was a serious problem. I understood the vital importance of eating, but couldn’t help it. I had no appetite. Even my favorite food lacked taste and was disgusting.Bone pain after chemotherapy was like glowing embers - it flared in different parts of the body and it was hard to find the comfortable position.

  • Bone pain after chemotherapy was like glowing embers - it flared in different parts of the body and it was hard to find the comfortable position.

  • Like so many other people, I had lots of questions in mind: «Why did it happen to me? » No real answer can be given. It is significant not only to search for the cure in faith but to understand that the illness is an experience, a test. And it is a part of life, which teaches us a lot and leads to spiritual transformations.

  • Insomnia, nausea, chest discomfort and headache heightened the emotional tension.

  • Hair loss, which is painless itself but can’t be easily accepted emotionally. New “hairstyle” in combination with my swollen face irritated me.

  • I was not able to concentrate on anything. I sometimes felt like shattered glass.

  • A lot of things that I had considered important turned out to be insignificant and faded. At the same time big love came along, giving me hope and making me stronger.

  • The positive effect of treatment cannot guarantee full recovery. But there is always hope for the best.