Winning reportage in People category. Slovenia Press Photo.
I’m deeply honored to be acknowledged in this way and to receive the award from Slovenia Press Photo for winning reportage in category People for story about »SILVA« and for honorary mention in category Nature with photo »The way of Heart«. I’m grateful and thankful to the jury Zohra Bensemra (Thomson Reuters), Darko Bandić (Associated Press), Enrico Dagnino and special thanks to Matej Leskovšek and his team for the organization of Slovenia Press Photo.
I decided to do a story about a woman named Silva because so many people are dealing with cancer, and I wanted to give them a story of hope. Silva is also a volunteer in the Association of Oncology Patients of Slovenia, where she helps women who go through a similar experience. She said that the first question they asked is, how long ago she had cancer and if the disease returned.
She was 41 years old when she felt a lump in her left breast. The personal doctor had sent her to the thoracic department, where she was supposed to remove the lump and send the tissue for examination, but when she woke up from the narcotic, she was without the left breast. This is how Silva begins her story about cancer that 22 years ago changed her life. She will never forget the moment when waking up from the surgery she felted strange at the chest area and discover that her doctor has removed her entire left breast. When asked how a doctor can remove her breast without her permission, she said that he did not want to wake her up from narcotic, so the doctor decided instead of her. She expected a little intervention and not the removal of the breast, for what she was not prepared at all. And after this shock followed another, where the analysis showed that the lump was cancerous.
Silva was determined to beat the disease and with help of her family and friends and she did. In that time is important to find a special place, she said, while walking through an old deserted abbey. That kind of places helps you maintain inner peace, she mentioned and said that she doesn't believe in God by meanings of Church. Going through emotional turbulence was hard, but also being without one breast, she said. So seven years after the operation she decided for reconstruction of her breast with tissue from her body. That operation changed her life, she finally started feeling a whole woman again, so she started to dance belly dance to celebrate femininity and joy for life. Dance also helped her not to fall in depression in the darkest moments. And today she performs at various charity events.
Before cancer, she was a shy and quiet person afraid of everybody opinion and with this experience that has changed, and in some way, cancer changed her life for better, not only she is stronger but also a more determined person and is not afraid anymore to be what she is and enjoy life.
I found Silva at 63 remarkable, with her bright colors, feeling for aesthetics and love for dance and joy. And that is why I decided to create a story about Silva because so many people are facing cancer and because the disease drags people down and into isolation; though Silva’s experience I wanted to put her story out and spread not only hope but above all optimism. That is why I named her experience as the story of Hope.