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Feuilleton Fotografie 30. April 2017

Begegnungen mit Nancy Borowick

Erst wenn man mit der eigenen Sterblichkeit konfrontiert wird, lernt man das Leben wirklich zu schätzen. Innerhalb weniger Sekunden, Stunden, Tage kann sich alles ändern: Der plötzliche Verlust eines engen Freundes, eine unerwartete unheilbare Krankheit oder der Tod der Eltern.

Nancy Borowicks Eltern erfuhren fast gleichzeitig, dass sie an Krebs litten: erst starb er, dann sie, gerade mal im Abstand von einem Jahr. Nancy hat den Leidensweg ihrer Eltern mit ihrer Kamera festgehalten: voll von Mitgefühl, Respekt und Humor. Doch die Fotografien von Nancy sind weitaus mehr als eine traurige und tragische Familiengeschichte. Sie sind Ausdruck einer bedingungslosen Liebe, die Aufforderung dem Leben immer mit einer Portion Humor zu begegnen und keine Angst vor dem Tod zu haben. Für Blog Bohème habe ich mit Nancy über eine Auswahl ihrer Fotografien gesprochen.

Howie and Laurel Borowick embrace in the bedroom of their home. In their thirty-four year marriage, they never could have imagined being diagnosed with stage-4 cancer at the same time. Chappaqua, New York. March 2013.

„My parents always taught me to look for the silver lining in life. In this situation, both parents in treatment for stage-4 cancer at the same time, I had to realize that while this circumstance tremendously difficult, the silver lining was clear. They were in this together, they had each other and could understand what the other was going through. This image to me represents that, as they almost begin to resemble each other, as a result of the treatments, and they almost become one in this moment, in this life, which I find comforting and special.“

At the Rodolfo Valentin Salon in Manhattan, Laurel Borowick gets fitted for a new wig, as she gave away most of her older wigs from previous cancer diagnosis. New York City, New York. February, 2013.

„Mom was no stranger to wig fittings. She had lost her hair on three occasions due to her three separate diagnoses with breast cancer. Every time she got a new wig, once the cancer was in remission, and her hair began to grow back, she would donate it to someone else who might need it. So with each new diagnosis, and hair loss, she went back for a new wig. Despite this repeated reality, she had unbelievable strength and courage and her beauty certainly shown through, hair or no hair.“

Laurel Borowick has had breast cancer three separate times but has always found a way to live her life in spite of her multiple diagnoses.

„Humor was key in how we Borowick’s dealt with the reality of our situation. We truly lived that cliche, „laughter is the best medicine,“ as we woke up each day and faced the challenges ahead. Mom had a way of finding joy in the everyday, despite her circumstances. Cancer was just one piece of her life story and there was so much more that defined her than the disease.“

Laurel struggles to breathe as her tumors steadily grow as she is no longer in treatment and has begun home hospice care. An oxygen machine is now a permanent fixture in the home. Chappaqua, NY. November 2014.

„Mom decided that she wanted to die in her own home, in her own bed, surrounded by those she loved the most in this world. We were all in shock when treatment was over and she started home hospice care because she had been fighting the disease for almost 20 years and now, the fight was coming to an end. Even so, she wanted to make the most of the days she had left, and found the strength to continue to get up and be present in this world before she was gone. Fortunately for her, the process of dying was quick, only two weeks, so she was not suffering for too long. She had come to terms with her own death, and appreciated all the time she had left with her family.“

During shiva, all eyes are on the Borowick kids, and the community bands together to provide love and support for these “adult orphans” as the rabbi puts it. Focus is also on Marion, center, Laurel’s 87-year-old mother, who has just lost her daughter. Chappaqua, NY. December 2014.

„Mom’s mother, Marion, grandma, is 90 years old. She has outlived her late husband and now, her daughter. This is not the way it is supposed to go, and as sad as I was for losing my mom, I felt even more sad for grandma, who just buried her daughter. This photograph was taken during Shiva, the 7 day mourning period after a death in Jewish tradition. We were lucky, as we were surrounded by lots of love and support from friends and family.“


Borowick, N.: „The Family Imprint: A Daughter’s Portrait of Love and Loss“, erschienen bei Hatje Cantz

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