A Message from Bill Aron:
During my interviews and photography sessions with 120 cancer survivors, ages 15 months though 99 years, I identified four stages of cancer: the Terror of the diagnosis, the Agony of the treatment, the Silent phases and the Knowing that there will be a new beginning; a new normal. This book is about the 3rd and 4th stage.
New Beginnings is not about cancer but about the individuals who are diagnosed. It explores the question of what happens during the “silent phase” of cancer after treatment ends, when the flurry of treatment and doctors’ appointments is replaced with a gaping silence. Even families and friends tend to see the conclusion of treatment as an “end.” At this point, survivors are left on their own as they attempt to move forward. Having cancer, however, may actually be only the first stage in the rest of their lives. One of the survivors in the book, Ed Feinstein, a rabbi in Los Angeles, put it this way: “The way of healing is to balance the loss and fear and rage with a sense of gratitude. When they balance, we are whole…whether or not we are cured.”
New Beginnings begs the question: “What do 120 cancer survivors have in common?” As I spoke with the survivors, I discovered an intriguing combination of fragility and inner strength. They were fragile in that they had a realistic assessment of what they had lost and of the obstacles that lay ahead. They had undergone a sometimes painful process of self-examination, honestly facing up to their shortcomings and mistakes, while determined to do better. Their strength was based in a belief that they could overcome the obstacles, and that their fate was in their own hands. They did not necessarily think of themselves as being cured but they felt that they were going to do everything possible to make the most out of whatever time they had left. They went from victim to victor.