In August of 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (or more specifically, invasive ductal carcinoma, ductal carcinoma in situ, high nuclear grade with comedo necrosis). Seven years have passed since my diagnosis.

I am now cancer-free.

I am not bothered much by cancer's physical effects on me; those scars have healed. Instead, I choose to focus on the unexpected gift - when faced with the prospect of dying - my cancer diagnosis clearly revealed to me: a heightened awareness of the natural world

The world is so difficult to give up,
tied to it by small things,
my eyes noting movement,
color and form. I am watching,
unable to leave, for something
is happening, and so I stand
in a shower of rain
or under a hot sun, worn out
with looking.
— David Ignatow (Shadowing the Ground, 1991)

One hundred and seventy-two days passed between my diagnosis and the lab results revealing my pathologic Complete Response (pCR) to chemotherapy.  Late-summer turned to autumn and autumn ushered in winter.  All the while, I yearned for spring.  Spring brought healing.  

What had I missed during those one hundred and seventy-two days sheltered in my cocoon of cancer treatments, doctor's appointments and surgeries?  Seven years after my diagnosis - I've decided to explore that question.   

Beginning on August 17, 2016 and continuing through February 4, 2017, I will share one photo per day, spanning three seasons, until I have collected one hundred and seventy-two images. Inspired by the everyday beauty that so immediately came into focus for me in 2009 I've taken thousands of photographs, many of which celebrate Pennsylvania's fascinating flora and fauna. 

I've sought to accomplish little more with my photography than to record what I see; my simple philosophy will endure throughout this project. I shoot what attracts my eye - interesting, beautiful, curious - I wish to record it. Each image will be titled and labeled with location, season, date, and time. 

Photographs captured on dates significant to my diagnosis, treatment and recovery, include annotations.

Life is beautiful, just very unfair.
— Alice Hoffman, Survival Lessons

Click each image to enlarge, view in lightbox and navigate through the collection.

A Couple Notes...

When I envisioned getting outside each day and taking a photograph to document the seasonal changes taking place all around me I could not have predicted the impact it would have on me. Spending time in my yard each day - as that is where you have no doubt discovered I captured most of my images - allowed me the opportunity to form relationships with the land and its inhabitants. The micro-environs - the garden pond, the woodland garden, the cottage garden, etc. - each provided me with unique experiences I might otherwise never have had (if I had not visited and re-visited the same spots each day through three seasons). I honestly feel I now have a much deeper knowledge of our property.

When I look at the collection of one-hundred-and-seventy-two images above I am transported right back to the day and moment during which I captured the photograph. One photograph that is especially meaningful to me is the sky captured on November 14, 2016. My son and I had driven around a small section of town searching for the moonrise - hoping to capture an image of the supermoon. We stood in a field for an hour, waiting and watching. The moon never appeared on the horizon - cloud cover prevented us from seeing it until much, much later that evening (when it appeared high in the sky...and unfortunately no more super than any other full moon). When I reviewed my photos from that night and I saw the image of the sun setting behind the trees, I realized how pretty the western sky was that evening. I might not have gotten the photograph I had been hoping for, but I will always remember standing in a field with my eleven-year-old-son...waiting for the November 14, 2016 supermoon.

Throughout this entire project my family has been incredibly supportive. My husband and son learned quickly that if I could not be found inside the house, I was probably knelt down somewhere outside seeking the best vantage point for photographing a ladybird beetle pupa or dangling milkweed seed. My parents became accustomed to me exclaiming, "Geese!" running out their back door and consequently missing the opportunity to photograph a seemingly endless, yet elusive progression of Canada geese flying over their home. I am so fortunate to have their unwavering love. 

One more thing...on August 17th, 2016 I photographed a beautiful pink cosmos growing in the flower bed at the rear of my backyard. Today, one-hundred-and-seventy-two days later...February 4, 2017, I photographed a wee cosmos seedling, self-sown in the very spot! 

I am so very grateful to have had this rich, meaningful experience ♥.