A few months ago I received an email that said, “On behalf of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, I am writing to ask if you would like to participate in Canadian Family Physician’s (CFP) Cover Project for our upcoming July 2021 issue.
We look for artists within Canada and in family medicine who are interested in art as medicine for the soul.”
Their Editorial Fellow, Dr. Sarah Fraser, was travelling when she came across my image at the Renaissance Hotel at the Edmonton Airport. Heartbroken was one of two images in the InFocus exhibit at the Wildskies Gallery, where it also won the People’s Choice Award.
Photography helps me process my son’s medical journey.
September 23rd, 2019 was my son’s second open heart surgery and things did not go as expected.
Shortly after his surgery, I wrote, “Kane now has a permanent pacemaker. He also has a hole in his heart. And the more I think about it, the more heartbroken I am. I will write about it and I will talk about it. And then I will wipe away my tears, tell myself that I am a warrior, and keep on going. Because that’s what Kane would do.”
I am a medical mom.
Photography provides me with an opportunity to talk about tough topics.
“September 10, 2020 was World Suicide Prevention Day and would have been my dad’s 64th birthday.
My dad died by suicide in January of 2015.
My dad was a cardiologist. He knew more than any of us just what was in store for Kane and I will never know if that added stress led to his death. But I cannot control that. What I can control is how I talk about mental health.”
I am a suicide survivor.
It would seem that I’m not the only one who thinks authentic images and stories are important. Dr. Fraser wrote in her editorial, Caring for children in a new world, “Our cover image of Kane and his father reflects the theme of this issue, child health.” She went on to talk about shifts to virtual care, communicating through PPE and recognizing racial injustice as some of the driving forces behind changing policies. Her last few lines particularly resonated with me.
Our new world indeed requires bravery. But it also requires adaptability. As adults, we try our best to be role models for the children in our lives. But children also provide inspiration and lessons for us. It is a privilege to be able to care for children as part of our profession. And they need us now, just as much as we need them.Dr. Sarah Fraser
I’ve often talked about the experience of being a medical mama, but I wanted to take a moment to share my mom’s perspective, as a medical grandparent, during that same heart surgery. Cheryl recently created a digital story with me, which I have included below.
If you have a story you would like to document through photography or digital storytelling connect with me. My Digital Storytelling Info Sessions are on hold for the summer but there are September dates available here.