Cart Search

2019 Annual Conference


March 07-10, 2019

submit Remember my login

2019 SPE Annual Conference: The Myths of Photography and the American Dream / Major support by The Joy Family Legacy Foundation

Looking for a chapter event?

Past SPE Annual Conferences

Elizabeth Claffey

SPE Member since 2008
Member Chapter: Midwest

Blood Work: Balancing Sickness and Health

"Blood Work" began in December 2010 as the most recent manifestation of an ongoing body of work that explores the relationship between medical science and life experience.In October 2009, Suzan was diagnosed with stage 3B inflammatory breast cancer. Her doctors told her that the tumor, which engorged her left breast and caused her nipple to invert, was growing at a rate of 40%, as opposed to the normal 5% growth rate of breast cancer cells. We met the week after her diagnosis, just before she began chemotherapy. Suzan's desire to record and explore her journey through images reflects one of my primary interests, which developed in 2008 after my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My mother is now living with cancer, but no one prepared her for that possibility. There was no dialogue in place to explore the emotional and physical transitions that became a part of her everyday life, as well as the new shape of her body and its missing pieces. The difficulty of being visibly sick in a society focused on physical perfection furthered feelings of isolation and guilt that accompanied her sickness.

The most recent work from this series is a transition, both visually and conceptually, from a documentary project about one woman's experience with cancer, to a deeper investigation of illness. The series also investigates the isolation that can be self or society-induced, the experience of balancing everyday responsibilities with treatment, the varying support systems of home and medical facilities, and the effects of a sterile environment on one\'s perception of her/his body as a foreign or feared object.

Carey's Allowance




Support System


Tea Time


Patient's Belongings

Behind the Curtain

Heart Monitor

Email Sign Up

SPE email updates contain resources, news, and more!

About this piece

Comments about this piece

Dialogue and critique are important to the SPE mission.
Please join the conversation.

Exit Full Screen Mode