Lakewood OH

Cancer survivors tell of journeys in photo exhibition

"Cancer Speaks," a photo exhibition by Marc Golub, is on display at Westlake Porter Public Library through June 28. (West Life photo by Kevin KelleY)

By Kevin Kelley


If not diagnosed with it themselves, most individuals know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. While many patients experience similar reactions to the diagnosis or have similar experiences during treatment, each journey is unique.

Insights and perceptions of 29 people diagnosed with cancer are featured in a photo exhibition now on display at Westlake Porter Public Library, 27333 Center Ridge Road.

Entitled “Cancer Speaks,” the exhibition was organized and sponsored by The Gathering Place, a nonprofit group that provides free resources for cancer patients and their families. In addition to a black-and-white portrait of the individual, each photograph includes a short reflection on being diagnosed with or fighting the disease.

Kristina Austin, director of community relations and marketing for The Gathering Place, said the exhibition gave patients a chance to express what an individual goes through when battling cancer.

“For The Gathering Place, the photos provide an opportunity for participants to give voice to their cancer journey,” Austin told West Life.

In the exhibitions, some participants speak of fear and anger, while others speak about joy and blessing.

“I skate boarded to see my doctor the day he told me I had inoperable brain cancer,” states the quotation next to one man featured in “Cancer Speaks.” “Cancer sucks, but my family keeps me strong.”

One woman says, “Before cancer, I felt I wasn’t really living. Now every day, every moment, is more than a second chance. God allowed me to see death. I feel fearless.”

Participants were selected by The Gathering Place, and the photos were taken by Marc Golub, a Cleveland-based photographer. Golub and Austin personally interviewed each subject.

“Each interview took on a life of its own,” Golub said in a phone interview.

“I asked them to tell me about their cancer journey,” he said. “I asked questions about their life and what they were experiencing.”

The photos are in black and white because that format is generally considered more emotional and powerful, Golub explained.

The concept for the exhibition arose after a cousin of Golub’s wife was diagnosed with lung cancer at age 49, he said. He created a sample photo and presented it to The Gathering Place, which told him to go forward with the project, he said.

The project, created in 2007, took seven months and 200 hours to complete, Golub told West Life. A permanent version of the exhibition is on display at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

“Cancer Speaks” will be on display at Porter Library through June 28.

Golub is about to begin work on a similar project that will feature individuals with special needs.

For more information about The Gathering Place, which has locations in Westlake and Beachwood, go to For more information about Marc Golub, visit his website at




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