This is what a year of breast cancer treatment looks like.
When Jersey City-based writer Emily Helck was diagnosed with breast cancer in July of 2012, she decided to document her treatment, one week at a time. For 12 months, Helck snapped photos of her journey -- good days and bad days -- and eventually stitched them together into a time-lapse video, which she posted on her blog Sept. 29.
"Last September, when I started chemo, I also started taking a picture of myself every week," Helck explained on her blog. "I was originally going to do this for the 12 weeks of Taxol. My Herceptin treatment (not technically chemo, but chemo-ish) was to last one year, so when Taxol ended I decided to keep going, and chronicle the full 52 weeks -- September 21, 2012 to September 21, 2013. That might actually be 53 weeks. Whatever. I went 21 to 21."
The result, which lasts a mere minute and nine seconds, is poignant, simple and empowering.
Helck, who over the course of her treatment has undergone a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and a Herceptin drug regimen, said the process of taking photographs was an emotional one in itself.
“Memory is so fallible and emotional, so there’s a lot that gets missed anytime there’s an emotional charge to a situation,” Helck told The Observer. “The changes to my body were upsetting, of course. Taking the photographs was a way of looking without looking.”
Looking back at her photo series is still "odd," she wrote on her blog, noting that she has never really like looking at pictures of herself.
"I feel, I don't know, separate from this person somehow, even though the last photos are from just a few days ago," she continued. "I feel like the girl in the photos made it through pretty unscathed, though the look on her face sometimes makes me sad."
Earlier this week, Helck told Yahoo! News that she is doing well. She has finished her latest treatment and is now undergoing the process of reconstruction. Although she's still not exactly sure why she took the photos, Helck told the outlet that she hopes her video will help others in similar situations cope with their respective diagnoses.
"A big part of the power that this disease has is that it makes people afraid," she said. "For me, the unknown is almost always worse than the reality. My hope is that by showing what it looks like to go through treatment, I can shine a light on a little bit of that unknown."