International REUTERS Photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi has graced us, and the world with some iconic photographs over the years, and we are pretty sure there will be more in the years to come.
However, in a Perspective Piece written for Reuters, Darrin shares a very different kind of photograph – one which speaks of his daughter’s battle with cancer, and all the challenges this has brought with it – challenges which were amplified as Malta, and the world is going through the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Darrin goes all the way back to when the surgeon who changed his family’s life, turned pale “the instant he looked at the X-rays of my 14-year-old daughter’s shoulder.”
These past months, one of the things which helped keep me going through what's undoubtedly the hardest time of my life,…
On the 31st October, Darrin’s daughter Rebecca, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which Darrin himself describes as a rare and extremely aggressive form of bone cancer. “The cancer had started deep in the sponge bone of her humerus and then broke out through the bone surface, causing excruciating pain, then metastasizing to several other parts of her body,” Darrin writes.
As Darrin’s daughter was all of sudden fighting for her life, he speaks of how she needed nine chemotherapy cycles at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, followed by a bone-replacement surgery at Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, England.
“But less than six months later, Becs’ battle would be made even worse”
This is when the pandemic hit Malta and the world. Darrin says that this brought paranoia in various aspects: Bec’s immune system; medical supply chains; and separation “at a time when togetherness was what we needed the most.”
In the emotional piece Darrin says how their lives changed on March 15 when a lockdown was imposed on the wards as part of Malta’s efforts in controlling the pandemic, adding that after visiting her daily, things now had to change, and he went to visit his daughter not knowing when he would see her in person again.
Darrin then gives a day-by-day description of what they had to go through, to ensure the maximum safety of their daughter, with all the ups, and the downs, such as when the doctors decided to do more than the original nine chemo cycles, and the impossibility to travel to England for surgery.
As the pandemic went on and on, Darrin and his wife took it in turns to spend time with their daughter, in periods of 15 days, maintaining strict quarantine at home after their stint in hospital.
“We’ve never spent such a long stretch of time together, just she and I. We’ve watched a lot of ‘Friends’ episodes – in fact, we finished the last season yesterday. We started watching it together when she first fell ill, and we’ve shared so many laughs since then. It’s really helped pull us through this ordeal,” Darrin writes, as he also says how online learning during the pandemic gave Becs exactly what she needed – “to join some lessons and communicate” with her teachers.
Darrin’s daughter in fact says that this was what she “had been asking for for months, but my request for lessons to be streamed to me was declined. Once they weren’t given a choice, it just showed how this was possible, so I started fighting for online school to continue post-COVID-19 for students who cannot attend school/university for medical reasons, for people like me. I am so glad that even in my toughest year, my voice was heard.”
Darrin writes how Becs was discharged in mid-July after four months in hospital, but he says that they are still waiting to see if Becs will go to Oxford for surgery. He candidly shares what their first outing was, a few days after she left hospital.
Today is the day when Rebecca will be free of chemotherapy!!! A day to celebrate. We are so proud of you Rebecca. You are an inspiration and a true hero ❤️❤️❤️
“I took her late at night to the northwest corner of the island, a relatively dark area, so she could try to catch a glimpse of the Comet Neowise. Although the comet was hard to view with the naked eye, Becs managed to see it with the help of my camera and long lens. And then we spotted a shooting star. We made a wish – no prizes for guessing what that was.”
Rebecca Zammit Lupi finished her 30 sessions of radiotherapy. She deserves a big party because we are so proud of her determination. Thank you Busy Bee for making this party possible
Darrin’s birthday is coming up, and for his birthday he is holding a Fundraiser on Facebook for Puttinu Cares, which helps people like Becs at Mater Dei’s Rainbow Ward. Do your part and DONATE!