I took last summer off from photography. Not because I wanted to but because I had to. My dad had cancer and my world began to crumble.
When my parents picked me up from the airport, I almost didn’t recognize my father. I had always thought of him as the strongest man in the world, but for the first time in my life he looked weak. He had lost 20 pounds and most of his hair and just walking to the bathroom exhausted him. He was in constant pain from the radiation treatment and by the time I made it home, he had not eaten for almost four months.
The first few days I could barely keep myself from crying in front of my parents. I didn’t want them to see me upset. I wanted to be strong like my father but I felt helpless just sitting by as the man I once knew shrunk before my eyes.
When we were in a hospital after my father collapsed on the steps of the cancer clinic I realized I needed to preserve what he was going through. My mother was sleeping in a reclining chair next to my dad’s hospital bed and I saw the unconditional love she felt for him. She would never leave his side.
I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to share the image but I knew I had to make it. As I photographed my family in the months that followed I realized the power of the images and I too found the strength I needed to make them.
Caption: After wearing the same hospital gown for three days, Armando Sanchez, is changed by Rachel Sanchez, his wife of 34 years, in his hospital room at Saint Agnes Medical Center. In addition to changing his clothes she helped him brush his teeth, wash his face, and give him a light bed bath with a washcloth