Pulitzer Prize winning photographer and cancer survivor, John Kaplan documents his journey through diagnosis, treatment and remission in the new documentary, NOT As I Pictured. At 48 years old, John was at the top of his game; successful career, wife and 2 kids (a boy and a girl), and rarely sick. When his belly button took on an odd shape, he went to the doctor for a hernia check. During a routine CAT scan, doctors found a large tumor hanging off the side of his kidney. It was cancer. Don’t be alarmed! All we have to do is surgically remove the tumor and you’re on your way to good health again. Unfortunately this is not how his story unfolded…
During surgery, John’s doctors discovered that his tumor was actually a result of a much larger issue. This would not be as simple as removing the tumor and recouping at home with some soup and tender loving care. He had blood cancer – non-Hodgkin’s, aggressive and insolent – difficult to treat, prognosis not good. He would need aggressive chemotherapy. He had a long road ahead of him.
So begins John’s journey through hair loss, ports, day-long sessions of chemotherapy, fatigue and ultimately, remission. We see him interact with his family and watch how he navigates this profound, life-changing event with his children – too young to understand the magnitude of cancer, but nonetheless apart of his treatment. Throw in Mother Theresa, a firefighter, and a rock star from Pantera and you’ve got a strange mix of bed fellows helping John along the way.
Watching this documentary, we get an insider’s glance into what it’s like to face a seemingly insurmountable cancer diagnosis and how John does it with bravery, hope and determination. John’s story is meant to inspire others struggling with cancer, to focus on the moments in life that are good, and sacred and hopeful. You can catch his documentary, NOT As I Pictured, beginning in late August on your local PBS station. John is also giving away 10,000 free copies of his documentary, NOT As I Pictured, to anyone touched by cancer. Go to www.NotAsIPictured.org for more information.