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.)

44_duo1-1 44_duo1-2

© Els Vanopstal

Tous tes gestes en douceur

I don’t usually do much assisting, but when fellow film shooter Johan Verhulst invited me to tag along on one of his shoots, I was more than happy to do so. He really makes beautiful work and is actually one of my favorite photographers in Belgium. The day of the shooting, it started raining the minute we brought the cameras out. But then luckily in the afternoon the sun came out and we got to shoot outside with lovely model Gabriella, beautifully made up by Kathleen Van Walle (you may remember her from a lot of my shoots).

When Johan wasn’t working with his Speed Graphic (a camera that is still on my wish list – drool), I was able to take a couple of shots with Gabriella. It’s always interesting to see the results when two photographers shoot the same subject, I guess it just makes you realize only you can make the work you make. No two views are the same. So voila, these are some of my results, you can check out Johan’s work over here!

gabriella-6x7-10blog gabriella-6x7-7blog gabriella-6x7-8blog gabriella-6x7-12blog gabriella-6x7-11blog