My family has been cruising for a long time. By that I mean we have been luckier than most when it comes to tragedy and drama (maybe a little of the latter now and then). So it’s always been at the back of my mind that every good run must come to an end someday. That day came on the 17th of November when I was sitting in a coffee shop with my two photographer friends.

My phone rang and I checked the screen and saw it was my dad, so I answered it straight away. He told me that he had bad news about my sister. Bad news on this occasion was an understatement. He said that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Time slowed, my heart rate rose and I felt everything from my shoulders to my stomach go into free-fall. Nothing can prepare you for a kick like this. I knew Joyce had been taking seizures lately and had been getting tests done, but I never thought for a minute that it would be anything serious. Not this. Not my family. Not my sister. But cruising was over. Time caught up, the red button had been pressed and the missiles had not only flown, but found their target and hit with full force. IMPACT.

Within days she was under a surgeons knife, in the form of a four hour operation to perform a biopsy, resulting in the picture you see above. The size of the scar and the metal staples that hold it together have taken something that wasn’t visible, but lurking beneath the surface, and brought it out into the open. All of this shit and I haven’t heard a single complaint. She takes it on the chin and moves on.

It’s too dangerous to try to remove the tumour, but the results from the biopsy say that the size of it can be reduced. So weeks or months of Radio and Chemotherapy are stretched out in front of her. I always think this time of year is all about looking back at what you have done and planning ahead for the year to come. But at least for now, the future isn’t what it used to be.

So right now it feels as though there is nothing much to celebrate. But. Celebrate courage. Celebrate modern medicine. Celebrate the man that dedicates his life to Neurology. Celebrate a country with a health service that treats everyone equally, not just the ones with medical insurance. But also celebrate the little girl in the old black and white photo with faded handwriting on the back. Because she shouldn't have to go through this! And lastly, celebrate the parents, who in their 70's and 80's are still looking after that little girl.

Derek Clark

Documentary photographer based in Scotland, UK. Winner of UK professional Photographer of the Year 2012 in the News category and member of The Kage Collective.