Daughter’s Touching Photographs Chronicles Her Parents’ Joint Battle With Cancer

November 30, 2017 | 1 Comment » | Topics: TRUTH

Howie and Laurel get their weekly chemotherapy treatment, in what Howie calls ‘his and hers chairs’. Laurel and Howie Borowick lived out the final year of their 34-year-long marriage fighting cancer together. Laurel had been diagnosed with breast cancer some 17 years earlier, Howie was told he had terminal pancreatic cancer in December 2012. They chose to spend their last months creating new memories, rather than becoming preoccupied with their troubles. Their family used the time they all had left together to the fullest. Howie died on December 7, 2013, a year and a day after his cancer was discovered. After that, Laurel’s cancer worsened and she passed away on December 6, 2014. The photographer is Laurel and Howie’s daughter. She chose to document her parents’ final chapters in order to hold on to their memory, and to capture their essence and strength in a trying time. She wanted to focus on their love, both individually and for each other. She says that everyone wants to find purpose in their lives, and that Laurel and Howie’s final purpose was found in this moment, in the gift they gave her of allowing her to tell their story. This is their legacy.

Howie and Laurel embrace in their bedroom at home.

The couple take a quick break to Florida before starting a new round of chemotherapy.

February 19, 2013 Wearing a playful wig, Laurel does the dishes in the family kitchen.

 

February 22, 2013 Laurel is fitted for a new wig at Rodolfo Valentino Salon. She gave away most of her old wigs, from a previous cancer diagnosis.

February 27, 2013 Howie raises a smile from Laurel by breaking into a bouncing dance in the kitchen.

March 8, 2013 Howie speaks on the bathroom telephone to their oncologist, in March 2013. The news is good for both of them: scans reveal that their tumors are shrinking.

March 30, 2013 Laurel and Howie plan for their funerals, to make the process easier for their children.

October 5, 2013 Howie and Laurel walk their daughter Nancy down the aisle on her wedding day.

November 30, 2013 Bracelet identifiers on Howie’s left wrist include notices that he is a fall risk, and a Do Not Resuscitate instruction.

November 28, 2013 Howie, who always had the last word in any conversation, characteristically wrote his own eulogy, which he left in an envelope with his daughter.

December 10, 2013 People attend Howie’s funeral.

December 10, 2013 Laurel spends her last moments with Howie—who is to be laid to rest wearing his favorite sports jersey, baseball cap and jeans—before his casket is closed.

 

March 12, 2014 For her 59th birthday, Laurel spends the day with Nancy at a ceramics studio. Tumors in her hip and pelvic area have made walking difficult.

April 14, 2014 At her first Passover meal since her husband’s death, Laurel sits alone at the head of the table.

 

November 26, 2014 By November 2014, Laurel is no longer in treatment and has begun home hospice care. Her tumors are growing, she struggles to breathe, and uses an oxygen machine.

November 28, 2014 Family friend Judy Fuhrer takes Laurel through some restorative yoga, to help ease her breathing and pain, in the Borowick’s hallway.

December 2, 2014 Laurel rests on the couch, while her elderly mother, Marion, reads to her.

December 3, 2014 Laurel’s son Matthew gives her a kiss on the forehead, but she barely responds. She can hardly get out of bed, and speaks only in a low whisper.

December 6, 2014 The family gathers around Laurel during her last moments.

December 6, 2014 Laurel’s mother and children say their final few words to her, before the room is cleared.

December 8, 2014 Many of the same people gather for Laurel’s funeral as did for Howie’s a year earlier.

 

December 8, 2014 Laurel asked to be buried in a sustainable wooden casket. Her son Matthew looks on before she is removed from the hearse.

February 8, 2015 A lifetime’s worth of photographs piles up, as the family home is cleared. Howie and Laurel’s children plan to sell the house, and close the chapter.

 

February 7, 2015 Clearing the house unearths cherished mementoes, such as the cake topper from Howie and Laurel’s wedding.

August 10, 2015 The Borowick family home stands empty, on the final day of cleaning.

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  • fred lapides

    The daughter has done a remarkable job, and this gallery helps us to put our lives in perspective.