Cancer Come, Cancer Go


“Our own unreality. We act our own lifes.
This is not a film, this is reality.
I’m 22 and my mother, dead?
Those couple of months..
I find myself crying on the floor, not able to stand up.
Jeroen sits down next to me and I nest my soaking wet face into his shirt.
I can’t bare to look at him.
Where is my mom? …
… Cancerous mess!”

In 2011 I became a Bachelor of Fine Arts by making a documentary about my mother and her battle against cancer.


My mothers uteral cancer forms the lower skin layer of my documentary. I’ve found that how we placed this in-your-face-desease into our lives has been the most important regarding the formation of our reality during this time. That’s why there are seemingly staged elements that, in reality, display our naturally showing inner truths, like the commercials my mother did for a cup of apple sauce and on the other hand for a brand of enema’s – which are a massive contrast. This irony and sarcastic humour makes you laugh and the factuality strike harder at the same time.


So it’s not about the disease as much as it is about how we place everything into our worlds, with humour as the protective upper skin layer. With my own visual language I also try to bring across the world through my mothers eyes to the viewer, for example with the usage of blurred images next to extremely sharp ones, overlapping shots because of her dizziness, extremely speeded up images next to slow-motion, overly designed commercials and by introducing important people and animals through titles floating through the air as in a work of fiction.


I’m looking for a form of absurdity in real life that we also see in the work of David Lynch: realities inside realities. And above all, the camera became an extension of my eyes, causing the viewer to be able to get extremely close to her as she truly is in my world. You see everything. That’s why it’s so important that I – as her daughter – have filmed it all myself. If someone else would have done it, she would have played a part to keep them busy or entertained.


I’m very selfish in this work. I only did what I wanted and what I felt like doing. In its core it’s all about my world, but that translates more into a handwriting than that it withholds anyone from identifying with it.


Am I able to take a step back and look at it from an artists perspective? Well, now something seemingly opposite happens than what I’ve been writing about so far – that everyone creates their own reality – and that is that apparently everyone creates their own unreality as well. I’ve been looking through the camera the entire process and that turned real life into a film of fiction for us both in a way that a film usually turns into reality for a moment. We became the actors of our own lifes.


Art by Sanne van Renesse

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ik kan het niet over mijn hart verkrijgen om op “like” te klikken. Wat een sterke vrouw jouw moeder.
    Eén van mijn beste vriendinnen gaat nu door dezelfde Kankerzooi. Er is zo’n acht maanden geleden borstkaker bij haar geconstateerd en de ziekenhuisbezoeken houden maar niet op. Ook als familie moet je sterk zijn…

  2. Gadverdamme, dat is inderdaad echt vreselijk. Je moet er echt met zijn allen doorheen en elkaar allemaal steunen. Wat heel belangrijk is, is dat je over zoveel mogelijk samen lacht en zoveel mogelijk grappen maakt over de situatie waar je toch echt niets aan kunt doen. Dat helpt om er samen doorheen te komen.

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