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Harriet in LIFE exhibition
Harriet in LIFE exhibition

‘Cancer does not make you look at death but at the life you are living,’ Zoë Law

Home » ‘Cancer does not make you look at death but at the life you are living,’ Zoë Law

‘Above all what matters is not to lose the joy of living in the fear of dying,’ said Maggie Keswick Jencks, on hearing that her breast cancer had returned in May 1993. Maggie went on to live with advanced cancer for two years and during that time she came up with the idea for a new approach to cancer care which would help people to live well with cancer.

Alison in LIFE exhibition
Alison in LIFE exhibition

Maggie shared her ideas with her husband, Charles Jencks and her former oncology nurse Laura Lee, who is now Chief Executive for the charity which grew from those early discussions, Maggie’s.

The first Maggie’s Centre opened in 1996 in Edinburgh. There are now 22 Maggie’s centres across the country, offering people the practical and emotional support needed to cope with the challenges that living with and beyond cancer brings, delivered by qualified professionals within a space that enables them to meet other people who understand what it means to be living with cancer too.

Malcolm in LIFE exhibition
Malcolm in LIFE exhibition

Photographer Zoë Law has been an avid supporter of Maggie’s for many years and with personal experiences of cancer within her own family it felt a natural fit for her to work with Maggie’s on a photographic project which placed people living with cancer at its heart.

It was so important to me to show each person’s strength and move the focus away from their cancer.

Over the course of a year, Zoë invited people living with cancer to her London studio to take part in a photoshoot with their family and friends. All of those who took part have been supported by Maggie’s across the UK through their different cancer experiences.

 “This project was one if the hardest things I’ve undertaken because it was so important to me to show each person’s strength and move the focus away from their cancer. For the portraits to share how cancer does not define them, nor has it taken away their essence,” says Zoë. 

The people who came to my studio taught me a great deal. Primarily that a cancer diagnosis isn’t the end but a way of looking at life differently.

“The people who came to my studio taught me a great deal. Primarily that a cancer diagnosis isn’t the end but a way of looking at life differently. What the subjects of these portraits said is that cancer had given them time. Time to live in the moment, time to appreciate the everyday and time to tell friends and family how much they are loved”.

Jai in LIFE exhibition
Jai in LIFE exhibition

The photographs were originally taken to mark the 21st birthday of
Maggie’s in 2017, and were curated into an exhibition called, LIFE by Ab Rogers Design. LIFE was launched at Christie’s in London the same year and opens at The Lowry, Salford Quays in May.

Zoë adds: “I called the project LIFE because the sense that came from the photographs was that cancer does not make you look at death but at the life you are living.”

Life – A photographic exhibition by Zoë Law is at The Lowry in Salford from Saturday 11 May – Sunday 9 June 2019.

Limited edition LIFE books were produced to accompany the exhibition and are available to buy online, with all proceeds going to Maggie’s. For more details about the work of Maggie’s visit www.maggiescentres.org

Read about County Durham’s Centenary celebrations for mining artist Norman Cornish.

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Written by
Carmel Thomason
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Avatar Written by Carmel Thomason