Kiss of Death
Cancer doesn’t care who you are or how you have lived your life. It picks its prey devoid of emotion and without discrimination. Lurking in the shadows and around corners. Devouring lives mindlessly and destructively as they drag a constellation of individuals, families and friends… doctors, nurses and candlestick makers into their volatile vortex. The path through the storms they conjure up are different for everyone. Due to their diabolical nature however they are rarely any less tumultuous and reductive. Life for each patient is reduced at least for a brief moment down to some bare essentials, family and time. That’s all that matters.
Berber Theunissen has experienced her fair share of pain and suffering. Something which she has always managed to channel cathartically into her art. Capturing the effect these situations have had on her and her loved ones. In doing so she allows others to know they are not alone. There is a power and dignity to her images. Beautifully capturing the highs and lows of what it is to be human.
I don’t think this talent has ever been more apparent than in this new series, Kiss of Death. This time documenting the emotional trajectory that her partner’s diagnosis set them on. Touching upon the fall out this journey had on their young family and the incredible strength they have had to find in themselves to endure the horrors thrown at them.
People talk about cancer being a battle. A fight. I disagree. There is very little the individual can do. They are a vessel tossed about amongst all the poisonous process’s thrust upon them. All they can do is endure and all we can do is help maintain their spirit. Trusting in the expertise around them. Not least, the love that a family can provide.
“We were just trying to hold on, we still are. It’s extremely hard work. To stay connected, to not lose each other in the anger and sadness. To not let the uncertainty and worries get the better of us. Sometimes I am grieving. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with guilt. Looking at our baby girl, feeling like I have missed so much of her first year. I was there and yet I really wasn’t. Our amazing son, only 4 years old, always happy, no idea of the darkness of the dark cloud above us, the weight on our shoulders. Most of the time I am afraid. Afraid of losing him, us. Afraid of seeing the tears on our children’s faces. Afraid of the devastating heartbreak.
The kids kept us sane. We couldn’t drown in sadness and grief; we couldn’t hide under a blanket. We had to stay strong for them. I had to be strong for all of them. I had to get up, every day. Carrying the worries of our family.“
– Berber Theunissen, 2023
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20% of all print sales from this series will be donated to Cancer Research.
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