In September 2008 I received a call from my sister who was in emergency with my mum. After complaints of constant headaches and forgetting client names in court (she was a lawyer) they performed an emergency MRI and discovered a brain tumour. The neurologist was quick to book in the surgery to have the tumour removed. Once the results were back we were informed it was a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) which is a stage four malignant brain tumour.
‘Memento Mori’ is a Latin term relating to the notion of “remembering that you have to die”.
I was in my final year of study for my Diploma of Applied Photography at the time and I started documenting the entire process. My mum asked me to bring my camera and document one of her radiotherapy sessions. Some people may think this is inappropriate or insensitive, but I was concerned with the possibility that I was running out of time and I wanted to record every moment we had left. My sister commented at one stage that she didn’t understand how I was able to create work surrounding memento mori. It was the only way I knew how. It felt like it came from such an organic place and I became so captivated by the research surrounding the concept of time. The conceptual development in creating the artwork that followed was confronting and psychologically remedial. I’m so thankful now that I am left with the images regardless of how painful they are to revisit at times.
Mum went through radiation therapy, chemotherapy and rehabilitation for the following months. We spent the majority of our time in doctors’ offices and in and out of hospital. Ten months later the tumour had returned and had doubled in size. She passed away in August 2009 with family by her side. These are the images that tell our story…