Posters by Rahel Meyer
Posters by Rahel Meyer
Every year, approximately 37,000 people in Switzerland are confronted with a diagnosis of
cancer. Along with the diagnosis comes shock, fear and sadness, besides having to endure
time-consuming therapies with consequential side effects, the outcome of which remains
uncertain. Even when treatments progress positively, the fear of cancer recurrence often
remains for the rest of one’s life.
Generally, this reality plays out behind closed doors at home, in waiting rooms and in
aseptic treatment rooms. For those on the outside, it is often difficult to be able to relate to
what the diagnosis unleashes in a person suffering from cancer and the plethora of questions
he or she has to deal with.
With the posters in this publication, graphic designer Rahel Meyer recounts the impact
that cancer has on her life – also after completion of treatment. Using simple elements, she
illustrates how cancer affects everyday life and provides insight into her world of thoughts
and feelings. Despite the gravity of the subject matter, a healthy dose of subtle, life-affirming
humor resonates in the posters.
Rahel Meyer is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.
She lives and works in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Before a diagnosis can be made, a patient has to undergo numerous examinations.
This means waiting over and over again – endlessly and anxiously – for the results.
positive test result
NEgative test result
Treatment for most cancer patients involves an operation. The goal of an operation is to sample
tissue for diagnostic purposes and – if possible – to remove the tumor as completely as possible.
Patients treated with chemotherapy receive medications (cytostatics) that inhibit the growth
of cancer cells or even kill them. Cytostatics can be injected, administered by an infusion
or ingested in the form of tablets.
I’m on a drip in the oncology clinic.
Oh! Is it like really bad?
So-so. Chemo takes about 1½ hours.
Chin up! You can do it!
Most cytostatic agents destroy not only cancer cells, but also healthy cells – especially those that
divide rapidly: for example, the mucosal cells in the intestine, or hair roots and blood cells.
Many cytostatics cause side effects: for example, diarrhea, loss of hair, anemia and
increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. Chemotherapy can also cause nausea,
vomiting and fatigue.
loss of appetite
skin and nail problems
blood count changes
I accept that there are possible side effects:
A cancer diagnosis is for patients themselves and their surroundings a serious emotional
crisis. How do you deal with such conflicting emotions as hope and hopelessness?
With fears of loss or even the fear of dying?
A frequent side effect of chemotherapy is the loss of hair on the head and the body.
The eyebrows and eyelashes often fall out as well. Replacing lost hair with a wig helps
many cancer patients – especially women – feel more comfortable in day-to-day life.
As soon as the body breaks down and eliminates the medications, the hair begins to grow
back – in most cases, faster and stronger than before. Sometimes it is softer or curlier,
some people have more grey hair, others less.
After chemotherapy, many patients suffer from cognitive impairment, which is commonly
referred to as "chemo brain". This manifests itself in, among other things, memory lapses,
a lack of concentration or slower thinking and decision-making processes.
Radiation therapy (radiotherapy) involves the use of high-energy rays directed at the tumor.
These rays – for example, gamma or electron radiation – damage the genetic substance (DNA) of
the cancer cells so that they can no longer divide and subsequently die. The rays damage not only
the cancer cells, but also the cells in the surrounding healthy tissue, which is also irradiated.
The skin reacts differently, depending on the kind of radiation therapy (location, amount,
single dosage and total dosage). The daily treatments can extend over a number of weeks.
Treating breast cancer or a tumor in the mouth or neck area requires a relatively strong dose
of radiation. A skin reaction resembling sunburn may occur after two to three weeks.
APRIL 20th APRIL 21th APRIL 22th APRIL 23th APRIL 27th
MAY 8th MAY 15th MAY 22th MAY 29th
JULY 30th JULY 31th AUGUST 2nd AUGUST 3rd AUGUST 6th
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MARCH 29 APRIL 11th APRIL 18th
Everyday life for cancer patients is shaped by hospital appointments with doctors and
therapists. For many weeks and months, their life is largely determined by the treatments.
Even after treatments are completed, patients are still confronted with cancer. Emotionally
processing such an experience is one thing, but the regular follow-ups – generally for one’s
entire life – are another thing, because they are often coupled with the fear of cancer
reappearing. For instance, there is a higher risk of developing a secondary tumor especially
after radiation therapy – even many years after the treatment.
All cancer patients deal with the disease in their own, individual way. With repression, fear,
courage, withdrawal, a fighting spirit – and sometimes with humor.
Idea, concept and design: Rahel Meyer
Texts: Rahel Meyer, Petra Meyer
English translation: Sharon Kroska
© Rahel Meyer, all rights reserved