Elizabeth Edwards. Tony Snow. Fred Thompson. The sudden commonplaceness of cancer in the political landscape—and the extent to which it is discussed as something to live with, rather than to succumb to—illustrates the degree to which our attitudes about cancer have changed in the past few years, helped along by a vast and growing medical armamentarium. Two decades ago, cancer was a sentence, with a period at the end. Now it’s rambling—discursive, ending uncertain. What follows are stories that attempt to convey the blunt reality of “living with cancer,” a phrase already ubiquitous and in danger of losing its specificity. No two cancers are alike; neither, as the following pages show, are the experiences of the diagnosed.
On April 20, 143 cancer patients and survivors gathered in Central Park for this issue’s cover photo. One hundred forty-one of them are pictured here. See video of the cover shoot here.
Photographs by Jason Schmidt