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Karkinos, Triple Negative

Lucas Garra | Badajoz, Spain

Manu, my wife, cries when we communicate she has breast cancer.

Edwin Smith discovered at Thebes in 1862 the oldest medical document known to date, presumably written by Imhotep.

Among all the historical dates regarding the Karkinos, the most important one for me is December 23th, 2015. That day my family, that live in Badajoz (Spain), suffered a severe blow. My wife, Manuela, was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. The cancer had an ability to extend from 95%

With Karkinos I would like emphasize in this kind of breast cancer, the Triple-Negative. Unfortunately There are still no personalized medications for each patient

Karkinos wants to show the human, intimate and familiar side of the woman who has a triple Negative breast cancer.

See the process from inside can help to make others understand the different stages to go through.
This photographic work wants to show that breast cancer is not as pink as some production companies are trying to make us believe.

I center my work on the human being, his environment and the consequences of his way of life. I am interested in knowing how people react in a society full of conflicts, worries, health, education or in intimate moments. I think this helps me to better understand the environment where I live or work and helps me to know myself better. Maybe I do it because I want to give a sense to the reactions and behavior of those around me.

The photographer and understanding the project

Among all the historical dates regarding the Karkinos, the most important one for me is December 23th, 2015. That day my family suffered a severe blow. Manuela, my wife, had Triple-Negative breast cancer that was a 95% level of aggressiveness.

That same day I decided to document the long and tough process ahead: the psychological shock, telling our son and loved ones, the biopsies, the physical changes, the treatment, the secondary effects from the medication, the mood swings, the absence of sex drive, the hair loss, burns, bruises, the anemia, the sudden drop of defenses, the exhaustion, the surgical intervention…

Can you imagine how would you feel if you were told that your wife or husband had cancer?

Do you know what a triple-negative cancer is or how would you react to those news? Reacting to such an unknown and painful situation seems impossible to me, still the first thing I did was kissing my wife, picking up my phone and taking a photo of that moment, a moment that stroked the deepest parts of our hearts.

I have dedicated two years exclusively to this project, searching information, documentation and also flowing with my own emotions.

It is said that the best way of knowing a story is to experience it from close distances. I’m living it in my own home 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is an advantage for me but it also requires an enormous emotional effort.

This possible advantage is allowing me to work with different elements. Sometimes I benefit from the simplicity of my Smartphone and sometimes I use more technical photographic equipment which has different features incorporated. It all depends on my emotional state.

Why is this project important

I can’t stop myself from asking: how will you experience the process? How will this new reality affect you? Will you be able to endure the medical tests? Will you bare chemotherapy? What kind of ideas will cross your mind? Will you cry, shout, get angry or get aggressive?

Would you ask yourself why is this happening to you or for which purpose is this happening to you? Maybe it is a big chance to learn about ourselves and get to know us better.

It is very difficult to answer these questions. Every individual acts in a different way.

This piece of work shows how we are experiencing it at our home. For me, this is a new path that I never thought I would experience. It’s just another example of what is happening increasingly in many homes.

According to the last report from the WHO (World Health Organization), there were 14 million new cases in 2012 and a 70% increase was foreseen during the next decades. In 2012 8.2 million deaths induced by this disease were registered worldwide.

For these reasons this project does not only aim people suffering this disease, but the whole society.

Possible positive consequences

I do not know the possible social repercussion coming from this project, but in my head there are many reasons that encourage me to invest on it and keep it going.  I’ll give you some motives.

First of all, I want to transfer other patients and their families the fighting strength and the spirit to be brave in order to confront the long and tough treatment process.

Cancer will spread around physically but we cannot allow it to invade our minds and defeat us psychologically.

Regarding Karkinos, I would love to precisely emphasize a kind of breast cancer, the Triple-Negative. A kind of cancer which, unfortunately, still has no “target therapy” (customized drugs depending on the patient). These treatments are used in, for example, in fighting hormonal tumors, which show great results. Achieving consciousness over something unknown is difficult but we must try.

It would be wonderful if this could lead to making an appeal to the governments and private entities to increase the budgets and help destined to continuously investigating and to expand the programs of earlier detection (screening), also in younger women. This is only possible by raising awareness regarding this severe problem and the year by year increase of cases.

Showing the process from inside can help this awareness process and to make others understand the different stages to go through and, this way, naturalize a situation where physical and psychical changes happen. The idea is to develop and rise a wider social awareness.

Karkinos shows the human, intimal and familiar side that many women suffering from breast cancer. I want to believe that this work can motivate other women to examine themselves and take prevention tests.  

I think it is important to remind society about this disease the 365 days of the year and not only on the World Cancer Day.

Also, highlighting the collateral damages from the disease is important: the companions, the family and friends which also suffer a big emotional burden.

Name: Lucas Garra
Nacionality: Spain
Web: www.lucasgarra.com
e-mail: lugarra@gmail.com
twitter: @lugarra
Facebook: Lucas Garra Photography

Lucas Garra. Spain. 1971

Documentary photographer and member of the design team, photography and graphic editing in HOY, spanish Newspaper.
Author of reports in different Media and magazines, exhibitions and the photo documentary book Silence, Twentieth anniversary of the signing of peace agreed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Photography workshops with: Ernesto Bazán, Walter Astrada, Emilio Morenati, Gervasio Sánchez, Pep Bonet, Ricky Dávila, Jose Manuel Navia, Cristina García Rodero, Oscar Molina and Sergi Camara, among othe.

Individual exhibitions:

- The memory of the Sahara

- Deleitosa, 60 years later.

- Silence. Twentieth anniversary of the signing of peace agreed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


- 2016 Third prize at the photography awards City of Badajoz.
- 2016 First prize in the 4th International Cáceres Photo Competition / Category Extremadura.
- 2016 Honorable Mention in World Report Award Documenting Humanity / Spanish author
- 2016 Honorable Mention IPA 2016: Photo Essay and Feature Story.
- 2016 Honorable Mention IPA 2016: Deeper Perspective.
- 2016 Semifinalist at Signo Editores International Photo Awards
- 2016 Semifinalist Siena International Photo Awards 2016.
- 2016 Semifinalist Magnum Photography Awards / Lens Culture
- 2011 Mention of honor in the City of Badajoz Award for Journalism.
- 2009 First Prize of graphic press of the Advice Advisory of Radio and Television Spanish
- 2005 Second prize Contest of photography Hernán Cortés University Residence.
- 2004 First Prize Cinematography Residencia Universitaria Hernán Cortés
- Second prize in the City of Leioa Slide Contest.
- Representative of Extremadura in the Young Creators National Contest.

Projects highlight:


- In the ghetto (2006)

- La memoria del Sahara (2008)

- Deleitosa, 60 años después (2008-2010)

- Perlora, holiday town (2009)

- Cullera beach (2010);

- Matacucas (2010-2012)

- The last of the zoo (2011)

- Kiss me on the street (2011…)

- Silence (2012 – 2015)

- Karkinos. Triple-Negative (2015…)

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