Tuesday, September 06, 2011

"Not as I Pictured": a journalist documents his own chemotherapy (PBS film)

Tonight, Howard University Television (PBS) in Washington DC aired the 56-minute documentary “Not As I Pictured”, by John Kaplan, a photographer (and college professor) who documents his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The link is here

The concept of self-documentation of cancer treatment in pictures is challenging, partly because of the obviously notorious side effects of the chemotherapy.  In fact, almost at the film’s outset he shows himself with half of his chest shaved for various catheters and patches. 

He is relatively young (48), when diagnosed, after a workup for a nodule near his bellybutton. He was never obviously ill before diagnosis.  But search expeditions found two different lymphomas.  The family has a history of multiple myeloma.


His family showed lots of tender mercies. He filmed his own sessions near the toilet, with the worst side effects.  He explains how his scalp hair loss starts suddenly, after about three weeks.   But eventually he goes into remission. Yet, he goes back on preventive sessions of more chemo.

Back in the 1970s, chemotherapy for lymphomas started getting coverage in the media, which documented clusters of Hodgkin’s Disease in some New Jersey communities.  Is a viral cause possible? 

Wikipedia attribution link for clinical picture. 

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