Extraordinary circumstances led Nancy Borowick to create something incredibly touching

Losing a parent to cancer is undoubtedly one of the most horrendous experiences anyone of any age will have.

But losing two, within a year, must be unimaginably unbearable.

And yet that is exactly what happened to 31-year-old Nancy Borowick, who lives in New York.

In 2011, Nancy’s mother Laurel was diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time. She was 56. 

In 2012, Nancy’s father Howie was told he had pancreatic cancer, and it was inoperable. He died a year later aged 58.

A day before the anniversary of Howie’s death, Laurel died too.

But rather than feel defeated by their exceptional circumstances, the Borowicks helped each other through their fight with cancer.

And as a professional photojournalist, Nancy documented the whole thing: “I did the only thing I knew: I picked up my camera and documented my parents’ dual cancer treatments for the next 24 months and our lives as they unfolded,” she wrote for NPR

“From the seven-hour chemotherapy infusions to running errands with Mom according to her to-do lists, I was there with my camera slung across my shoulder.”

Nancy has now released a book, The Family Imprint: A Daughter’s Portrait of Love and Loss, containing her photos as well as snapshots from her family life.

She is incredibly positive about the difficult few years of her life: “When I look back on the time I spent documenting these complicated months, I don't immediately remember feeling scared,” she said. 

“I remember the pee-your-pants laughter, high-calorie dinners (as per the doctor's request, of course), the late-night dance parties in my parents’ kitchen and the never-ending conversations over a cup of Chappaqua roast from Susan Lawrence Gourmet Foods and Bea's Bakery blueberry pie.”

The photos reveal many touching moments from Howie and Laurel’s final years together, including wig-fittings, chemotherapy and holidays.

“By confronting what I feared most, using my camera as my shield, I was able to move past the trauma that I anticipated and truly enjoy the time we had left together,” Nancy said.

“Had I hidden away from the reality, I wouldn't have the beautiful photo of my parents holding hands across the chemo chairs as they received their respective treatments. 

“They were the definition of strength and courage, and seeing these images reinforces to me the importance of not letting fear hold me back. 

“It also reminds me to appreciate each day and not lose perspective. As Mom once told me, ‘There's also life going on here. I am having marshmallows, you know!’”