Marilyn Santiago

Photojournalist
    
Location: Puerto RIco
Nationality: American
Biography: A couple of years ago I took another course with NYIP, this time Photojournalism, and then as a friend told me once years ago "you should be a photo journalist" I hope I listened and studied it. I finished my humble course, and I am... read on
Public Story
Not a Happily Ever After, After All
Credits: marilyn santiago
Date of Work: 11/09/16 - Ongoing
Updated: 11/08/19


                                                                            
  Cancer; that terrible word is something that goes into two categories in our minds, either they died or they lived happily ever after.  Rarely, and for some of us something new, we think of being a survivor and still not live happily ever after.
There is no doubt in my mind every time I get to meet an extremely vibrant, charismatic, happy, and bigger than life character, that the life conditions or past has been abysmally difficult. So far, it has not failed me once.  I just know they have been through something very bad, difficult, life altering.  I wait, observe, and listen from a distance until the curtains drop and I get to see the truth and learn a new lesson. Only then I understand where all that love and thirst for life comes from.  The first question that always comes to mind, almost unconsciously is how? How did they get here? I know how I got here, I have my share of brokenness that not even time can alleviate, but I do too understand life goes on. But there are different kinds of pains that brings different ways to see life. Every experience is different.

P3

This woman I met as briefly as a year ago is such a character.  All you can see from afar is this not so tall woman with this great personality that catches your attention and instantly makes you feel happy. One of those personalities that you cannot help but feel good to be around.  The kind of person that will bring a smile, or more likely big laughs without even trying, just by being herself. Her happy and resilient self.


P3b

Now cancer free as I have learned, I also learned to my surprise, how we just think as free cancer patients to be happily ever after and don’t give more thoughts. As someone who haven’t had a cancer conversation up close with anyone, there are many things I have no idea how they work. The only people I have known that has it, are not close to me so I can talk to. With this being my first close encounter with a survivor, I never thought of the meaning of “quality of life” to have a negative connotation. I didn’t really stop and think, let alone imagine, how life after cancer could be. I am learning that for some, the disease may be gone, but they are left with side effects that will never leave. A painful reminder of those dark days.
You would never imagine this woman that seems so happy and unstoppable to be living with such side effects and a quality of life that could leave many others living in shadows, living in sorrow and unhappy.  You can’t help but wonder, what moves her? What gives her the strength?
What started as a dentist routine visit was the beginning of it all. It’s inconceivable that some of the horror stories can come in the middle of a fairy tale,she was pregnant with her daughter Stellita. One day, one visit, one or two hours it’s all it takes to transform a life, for better or worst.


P9c

Facing a big change in her life, routines, and expectations she started or more likely, incremented the time she spends with her family, taking care of them and be positive. Still, pain was always there and it was brutal. Trying to hide it all from them even at the expense of herself. Only the bathroom at night when everyone was asleep was her witness.


P9


The aggressive treatment consisted of 6 months of chemo every Wednesday and 40 sessions of radiotherapy. She lost the ability to eat solid foods, cry, sweat, to salivate and vaginal fluids. Despite it all, she never cried, never complained, she toughen up and concentrated on be on her most positive state of mind. Her prayers where simple – “thank you for one more day, help me survive the day” and so on.
A week after the last treatment she was in the hospital yet again for a cellulitis on the area of the tumor. Her husband refused to visit; and when he finally did, she knew that part of her life was over. Over all the pain she has been though and all the fight, that was even worst. She was still fighting for her life, but he gave up long before. But life goes on, the kids need her now more than ever and that’s what makes her go on, to live a simple life, help and take care of them. She started doing things she enjoyed, she embraced solitude, started helping others that are living through the same process her relationship with God has become stronger and above all, she enjoys her kids to the fullest.
After 17 operations, living in a constant hunger still she says: “I wouldn’t change anything. I was happy before, but I am even more happy now. Tomorrow is another day. That’s my mantra.”



P20b

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By Marilyn Santiago —

VISUAL STORY

Quarantine2020 from PR....It Has Made the Rest of the Family to Stop and Watch the Sunsets

By Marilyn Santiago — Forced toghether, 6 people in the house. It is stressfull enough any day, but now with one of them having to go out to work everyday, trying to keep..
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Pretty Girls in Fashion Boxes

By Marilyn Santiago —    A day in the life of a teen model fashion show. I followed Stellita as I know her on the day of one of the runways shows.
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Roller Derby Girls and their "Patin Jangueos"

By Marilyn Santiago — "Patin Jangueo" is a once a month event where roller skates and bikes unites to roll the streets of the metropolitan area here in Puerto..
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When Travel The world and Being a Nat Geo Photographer is Not an Option....You Learn to Love What You Have

By Marilyn Santiago — "Por que pa' vacilar no hay que salir de Puerto Rico," as the song says. As it turns out, we live in paradise! Our little 100x35 is a..
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Street Art: Healing Through Creativity

By Marilyn Santiago — Wandering around the streets, especially around Santurce, you are witness of how much art is a part of the voice and healing process of Puerto..
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An Autistic Escape Through Sports

By Marilyn Santiago —    My 18-year old son is an Aspie, and after many years of those troubling teenager stages and mood swings, we finally found the antidote...
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Walking Stories

By Marilyn Santiago
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Where We Once Walked

By Marilyn Santiago —    Hurricane Maria did so much in so many areas, but one constant reminder after two years has been the coastal erosion. The coasts have..
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The longest Chistmas in the world are here in PR

By Marilyn Santiago —    They happen here, in our little 100 x 35. Out island might be small, but our spirit is immense, festive, loud and resilient. Now hold..
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Light the Night for Leukemia

By Marilyn Santiago
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