Le coeur ouvert à l’inconnu


You may have noticed this, but I don’t shoot a lot of men. I don’t really know why. I used to think men were a lot easier to photograph than women, and then suddenly at one point that all turned around. I think it was around the time that I started shooting a lot more models (instead of people I knew), and they were mostly women. Aside from that, there’s also this crazy romantic in me who desires to throw flowers on people and such, which may also be why men don’t come up so much in my work. I thoroughly enjoyed my shoot with Jeffrey though, early September. We did a lot of different things but I really like this miniseries in my home studio.

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Model: Jeffrey @ Models Office
© Els Vanopstal

All the roads we have to walk are winding

I can’t believe it has been a year since Christophe (then: my boyfriend, now: my fiancé) got sick. Around this time last year, he was feeling tired all the time, loosing weight, coughing and getting night sweats. It took a lot of doctors and hospital visits to finally figure out he had cancer – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It’s a type of cancer that is quite common in young people and it can mostly be treated well.

Christophe received six series of BEACOPP chemo therapy and was supposed to go into remission around June. Unfortunately a PET-scan showed the cancer had grown back and on top of that he had gotten Guillain-Barré, a disorder attacking his nervous system. To treat the cancer he received ICE chemo therapy for two months, which did even more damage to his nervous system, making him end up in a wheel chair and having difficulties using his hands. When a new PET-scan was done, it appeared the severe ICE chemo didn’t work and actually just made everything worse.

The doctors didn’t have an immediate answer to what should come next, so they consulted with doctors in France who are working on a medicine for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The medicine was (is?) however not available in Belgium yet and even if it was, Christophe wouldn’t be sure to even get the medicine because it also has a bad influence on the nervous system and with him having Guillain-Barré he might not be approved. After some days the doctors decided to try another chemo therapy first: GVD. It’s not a go to chemo in Belgium, but is mostly used in the US. The good thing about the GVD is that in comparison to the ICE it was like a vacation. His body got a chance to recuperate a bit and his hair started to grow again. With physical therapy he was able to regain some strength in his limbs.

But the night sweats returned, and Christophe was loosing weight again. Also his hands and legs suddenly lost the strength he had built up with physical therapy. The doctors weren’t quite sure if it was the cancer or the Guillain-Barré pulling him down again. Betting on the latter, he was treated for chronic Guillain-Barré.

Up until now there has been no improvement in his ability to use his hands and legs. But the night sweats disappeared and Christophe put on some weight. The inflammation in his blood also went down. After two months of GVD we finally got some good news: the tumors have gotten smaller, the chemo has worked partially. Today he took the next step: Christophe is now in hospital for about a month to receive another severe chemo treatment, combined with a bone marrow transplant. Fingers crossed things continue to get better. November we are waiting for you.

(Photos from last year before/ during his diagnoses.)

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© Els Vanopstal