DOWNLOAD / OPEN in Acrobat PDF !!

during the radiation



Diagnosis "cancer"

Many of us feel helpless to meet people who have to live with the diagnosis of cancer. It is comprehensible! Then we associate it almost always with a certain verdict of death for those people. Our feelings tell us: "It is only a question of time, when it will happen... Sooner or later one can not escape..."

The anxiety which comes with this is indeed enormous and also justifiable, but is it also so today? With medical progress as it is today the curse of the uncureableness of this disease has been taken away. In spite of this the terror of getting this disease remains deep in our minds and hampers us. We can only imagine the heavy weight, which lies on the shoulders of such people. Such a situation we can accept as an invitation to our humanity. Especially, when, in this situation, we can not leave our fellow human beings alone. The way we deal with them in reality is often sad and not realistic, and one can say at times even miserable. This photo exhibition is an attempt to bring my personal experiences during my 12 years of work in Radiotherapy to light. This exhibition is a contribution to brake the ice of the helplessness between sick and healthy people. When it comes to a meeting between one person and another, they often both make a new and beautiful experience. This they have to share with one another. These photos show concrete individuals who live with a diagnosis of cancer and whom I have met in the hospital in Vienna where I work. Without any exception, each meeting with these individuals was such an enriching experience for me. I hope that others will be encouraged to meet such people and with great confidence will take part in their lives...


Vienna, March 2003, Peter Zaloudek




"I think, that this disease is stronger than I am…But I am ready to say: I need help!"

A quiet, shy person. She had beautiful eyes and hands, as I could see, both reflected her fine soul…




"My life hangs on a thin thread, but my will is strong."

A very introverted person with few words. He didn't give up and he revealed himself to be a thinker.




“My daughter says to me every day: ‘Mom, you are okay, you are healthy.” I hate to believe this. This diagnosis hurts me very much...”

This lady fights. The diagnosis of cancer shocked her and threw her entire world off its axis. She may not have had any special plans for the future, but she was enjoying her life fully. She simply didn't have any place for suffering and pain, especially for an illness such as cancer. It's always been like that...people get accustomed to life without sorrow and without suffering. Accepting a challenge and creating a new life for yourself is not easy. When our lives move smoothly with little problem or conflict, we sometimes confront problems with surprise and great disappointment.




"Since my sickness, everything has changed. I am not the same as I was before. Life is gray… My wife is a very strong support for me. If I wouldn't have her, I probably wouldn't be here any more. Go to the doctor and get examined - get some therapy - speaks to me. I am as one paralyzed….You know" he continues to talk to me - "I am very thankful that I have her…"

A very courteous, decent and patient man. How good it is that he is not alone…



“ I think that since I heard I have cancer, I live in a state of shock. The news came so suddenly and unexpectedly, too, when I had accepted a new job, a job that I loved., and was also a hobby. I worked with elderly and infirm people. The job gave me satisfaction and joy, I did it with all of my heart. Now, after therapy, I cannot do it any longer, and miss it. I now feel emptiness and loneliness instead.”

Many people experiencing this illness have similar experiences. You begin to build your career, working in charity or social work that fulfills you. You feel the power and energy when you reach out to help someone elderly or sick, the old, the suffering, and those people who live on the margins of society. You want to contribute, and you are dedicated to it. Suddenly you are struck a blow by this illness. Not only is it painful to surrender to the illness, but you are not able to to help others, which could defeat your spirit. You have to admit that your pain is more difficult than watching others suffer, but need to accept the fact that if you cannot carry your own cross well, you are not able to effectively help others with their crosses. We need to accept our mistakes, weaknesses, suffering and illness before we can proceed to help others.




“Only the hope not to lose...”

Quiet, introverted and very pleasant, Franz is suffering a long-lasting illness. But in his feeble body that is wracked with pain, there remains a strong spirit.



"I have a fantastic wife who supports me. But in spite of this, I know that I have to come to deal with my disease alone…"

The confirmation of the diagnosis threw this man off of his equilibrium. Only slowly is he getting back to himself. The participation of the marriage partner is a very, very important help…


“Certainly there are thousands and thousands of thoughts in your head. You think all the time...about the future, not only because it is your body, but because you're still young! I have a small son who has no one else but me.”

What would happen if...we all know this sentence. What would happen if I could be healthy, my wife still with me, or if I didn't have a young son? It's terrible when young kids have to see their father being so ill, face the uncertainty of their future and their fears of being alone. Accepting such a reality is, at times, a harsh truth. Working through these problems can be done, although we may not understand what is happening, we can accept it. We cannot be dreamers, thinking in terms of when or if , when illness strikes us or someone we love. We have to think beyond the simple life that we envisioned, while at the same time letting small, simple things flow through our hands like flowing water between our fingers, leaving small droplets of daily “diamonds” remaining behind to refresh us.



“There is no reason for me to laugh. Since World War II, I have had to face problems such as the gunshot wound I suffered to my head, leaving me to suffer long-term consequences. Depression is the worst of all. It was so dark that the diagnosis of cancer didn't surprise me at all. The number of my ailments lead me to believe this was just “the next one”. Who knows! It may not be the last illness I have to endure. I've become accustomed to my life and all my weaknesses. I learned to accept my illness and not let them become an emotional burden. I'm learning to turn my depression around, to hold my head high and concentrate on other things in my life. In spite of my life, I believe it's beautiful, but short, and now I want to enjoy the gift of my remaining days.”

  An admirable man! In spite of his unhappiness, he finds new reasons to be optimistic about life. He's received honors for his activities in both his work and public life, and his philosophy was certainly behind his successes. I thank you, Erhard, for your testimony and your existence.




Limited in his articulation because he couldn't speak, he had to learn another, new way of communication. He was not able to say even the most easy and simple words. His sickness didn't allow it. His brain and mouth were ready, but the voice didn't come out. In spite of it there was another way to communicate.

Mr. Ernst and many others, like him, spoke to us with their eyes. We should have more courage to look in their eyes: perhaps we would learn to communicate with them without words. Perhaps then we would discover something new, something unusual and something which would make our life richer.



"What can I say? Must I say anything?" - And I answered: "No, please feel free not to say anything, if you do not desire…"

But in this case I must say something about her: she made the impression to other people that she was a quiet and shy individual. When she spoke, she spoke very quietly and with grace. In a given-moment, when somebody told a joke or said something funny, she manifested herself as a very joyful, humorous and pleasant person.

At the moment of taking her picture , her husband , who accompanied her almost everyday to radiation, came into the room suddenly, and said to her: "Why don't you laugh? You are such a joyful person, even now that you are sick. A smile belongs to you!"

When she started to laugh I thought to myself: how truth it is…



"When the doctor told me: you have cancer - I answered: OK - and what do we do now?"

A sportsman! He did everything to be physically in good condition. But his spirit was also very fit. If you are ready to accept every new situation, you become the next one to learn and to grow…



“I was married for sixty years. It was a good marriage. You cannot imagine how dear and attentive my husband was during my sickness and hospital stay. He died suddenly while I was in the hospital, and I could not even attend his funeral. His death was a huge wound for me, it hurt me even more than my own sickness. I am thankful, therefore, for everything in my life.”

A very nice, sympathetic and admirable lady!




"To think positively and smile is the fundation of the healing process…"

This is the statement of an optimist who every day entered and at the same time also left the Radiation Room.




When I asked him “How are you?” I always got the same answer: “Thanks, I'm doing well, there is nothing I can complain about.”

  If Walter looks severe in this photo, it's only because of his horizontal position in his bed. He was one of the most resigned patients I met, but also joyful and content. He must remain bedridden for the rest of his life, yet he is a wonderful man that I admire for his attitude and his simplicity.



Because Gerlinde wrote a poem which was is difficult to translate this place is empty…




“Thanks to the excellent work of the radiological and oncological clinic, everything is going okay, without stress, and one hundred percent professional. I don't have any feeling that I am sick. I'm sure that the therapy will be a success, and I thank everyone!”

  I also thank you, Rudolf, for your praise and encouraging words.



"Think positively and live generously, the oncology team will take care of you."

A very peaceful and pleasant man.



"Before this I traveled a lot, I visited many exotic countries.
Now I have to learn to stay at home…"

A quiet, peaceful and friendly person. The peace which she certainly exuded was some kind of "fighting peace". It was a peace which was a compromise between the desire of a human being and the acceptance of one's own limits…



"When the doctor told me: you have cancer - that moment definitely changed my priority scale."

A small person, full of energy and open to a new life; a life of simplicity and peace, a life based in spiritual priorities rather than in materialistic priorities…




"You don't make it alone: your surroundings; family; friends and your faith are very important."

This women exuded optimism and joy for life; she had a very strong personality…




"Life goes on"

A small and fine person, she exuded a positive view on life in spite of her illness…



" I am a pensioner and I enjoy every trifle of the day. I like to go to the forest, to pick mushrooms - of course I like to eat them too. I like very much brass music and I support every cultural activity in my village. I never have enough time in a day…"

A man - you can admire and envy…


Ernestine and Silvia

"We are colleagues - we do the same job, but we live in different places. A common disease brought us together in this hospital, and now we encourage one another…"

Common pain is half the pain. This is very important knowledge in the life of sick people…



“When I was young, I dedicated a lot of time to sports (soccer, skiing, etc.) Now, in my old age, I just ride a bike for an hour or two. I love my family, therefore I am looking with courage to the future.

You could feel his love for his family, and his warmth to all people in general. It was nice to meet him every day at the hospital and see how strong his relationship was with his daughter, who came to see him every day. He's an exceptionally friendly and likeable man.




"Life is beautiful, no matter what happens…"

A lady, who was always in a good mood. Thanks to her simplicity and joyful nature, the atmosphere in the waiting room, after her arrival, was changed and became friendly and familial…




"My God - what shall I say - everything here on earth , big or small, is, in substance, the same and it's not always easy to find the real sense of it…"

A peaceful, very pleasant and interesting man. His sickness and the therapy made it quite difficult for him to speak. Meetings with him reminded me of the words found in the Bible: "There is a time to speak and a time to be silent…(Kohelet 3,1-8)




"My life experience? With complaint and lament I didn't make any positive progress in my life. But when I laugh, I feel better and also other people around me feel much better…"

A friendly , good-humored person. She exuded freedom, even-temperedness and modesty. She was characterized by a life rich in experience and wisdom.



"My motto always was and is also today: what I can not change, this I accept…"

A joyful, pleasant and likeable person. She came almost every day accompanied by some family member…



“After my surgery, I thought I could start working in six weeks. Then I thought it would be ten weeks. After the doctor told me I had cancer, I had only one wish: to live and be with my wife and my children. I hope that the Heavenly Father and Mother of God will give me courage and energy for my continued battle...”

A quiet, inconspicuous, friendly gentleman. His illness came unexpectedly, surprising him. He is convinced that with his enduring trust in God, he will survive. His belief of God is admirable.



"Since I am sick, I learn each day to distinguish between things that are important and unimportant…"

A deeply meditative and private person…



"You have to accept your cancer to live with it. With this diagnosis you can realize how beautiful life can be."

Then he turned to his wife and said: "Your love makes me strong."
A tempered and very special person!


In the life of everyone of us there are some persons or just one person whom we never forget. Among many patients whom I treated there is one man, who has a very special place in my heart - Mr. Reinhardt. We gave him radiation 2 years ago, now I see him occasionally. Let us talk about the wisdom and richness of his personality and of some of his thoughts:

Signs for the survivors

One philosopher, who spent a long time in the concentration camp during the II World War, said: If I would have only seen the walls from my window I would probably not have survived. But I saw the flowers and the blades of grass which grew between the slots… I am also looking every day for my personal blades. In the yard at the home, where I live, 3 tress were growing. Two of them were cut down, but in their place - between the asphalt and the concrete there grew new small trees. They were able to find in those difficult conditions some space to live. They needed only a little to be alive: a little bit of sun, air and dampness; a small piece of the earth, and so they live and are "happy."


The world of the animals:

I admire the animals: they don't have any demands. If they have something to eat, they are happy! Man, on the other hand, must have 23 tractors, thousands of rockets and everything possible and then this is still not enough. What can make him really happy?


Sometimes, when I observe nature, I watch the snails. They are slow (according to us) but they always arrive to their aim in due time. One day I put a small piece of apple between 2 snails. You should see how fast it was gone!

The funeral:

A couple of years ago I organized my own funeral. It was a very interesting experience for me. I felt a little strange - as if I was a kind of thing - how many candles, wreaths, and a coffin etc., but since that time I have my peace. I live for every moment - this is a gift, which we get totally free of charge.

Small children:

The most beautiful activity now for me, since I am sick and because I am a pensioner because of this sickness, is babysitting. My life partner organized this activity for children from difficult families, which have only one or no parents. I have a lot of time and I do like it very much. It's a miracle to watch, how a child grows and learns the language and becomes more and more independent. I have had many excellent experiences. One of them: After 9 months of babysitting one lady came to pick up her unwanted child. When she arrived, the child jumped into my arms and said to me with tears in her eyes: "I love you…" There is nothing more beautiful than this…"

Mr. Reinhardt - I thank you: for your words, your example and your existence!




"Live thankful and have internal expression…"

A contact-friendly person. At the time when she came to the waiting-room she started to speak with the other people. The atmosphere was immediately warmer, similar to a situation when friends meet…



"I must already go, because my "baby" waits for me in my car…"

It's true: a dog is man`s best friend…



“When my husband embraced me after surgery and said ‘We will do this every day” I immediately knew that I would again be healthy. During the radiotherapy, I would say “Cancer, your chance is over.”

  A decisive woman who draws energy for her battle with cancer from the love of her husband.




If you think that this photo is too artificial, you are wrong. I have only met this man a few times, on occasion when I visited some other patient in the smoking room. I would go to the smoking room of the hospital so as not to disturb any other patients in the patient-room with our long conversations. This old man always came to this smoking room. He lit his pipe and it was obvious that he enjoyed it. In the beginning, because of his courtesy, he didn't interrupt my talk with the other patient, but slowly he started to talk with us.


Everything that he said was a composition of rich lived-wisdom and unbelievable an abundance of experience. All these had a common denominator: modesty and intelligence. So I decided to take his photo so as to keep him in my memory for a long time: he was really a genuine thinker and an adventurer!




“Cancer is one of our worst enemies. I can't defend myself against this enemy alone, so I draw power for this battle from my children. From their embraces, the infinite trust in me, the often unspoken but clearly understood ‘Mother we love you' I gain the resolve and strength I need. Since being diagnosed, our relationship has grown more intense, considerate and fervent. In the time between surgery and irradiation, some friends encourage me to share kind words with everyone, so that I, in turn, will receive kindness back. There's no universal prescription to win against cancer. Everyone has to find his own way to live with it...”

There are moments in life when it is necessary to have time just for yourself. Everyone needs every to overcome everyday conflicts, but by nature man is a social being. Little can make him happier than sharing his experiences with others, to share joy, contentment and satisfaction in helping others, interacting with others, even drawing on others for help when we are in need. It's one of the oldest bits of knowledge passed from generation to generation. Lucky are those who live fully, share deeply, love honestly. I congratulate you, Helga, and I thank you for your testimony.




"I learn now to see every new day as a gift. It makes me really very happy…"

A quiet and inconspicuous man. He came often to the radiation in the company of his wife. The thoughts and wise phrases of some of the philosphers were for him, as forother people, very important and also a source of life.




"My first thoughts after the surgery were: I still didn't love my two children and my partner sufficiently."

A beautiful statement from a person with a strong personality!





“Looking with trust and optimism into the future, planning to face the challenges ahead, and trusting that therein lies time to enjoy life, to concentrate on others and not on myself.”

  I cannot publish the striking photograph of this gentlemen. He's well-known and wants to remain incognito. I understand his wishes and accept it. For him, it's time for introspection, not recognition.




The most unbelievable, beautiful yet sad story, is sometimes scripted by life itself. Listen to Franz' story, told to me when he had completed irradiation therapy:

“Something happened yesterday which totally unnerved me, even more than my diagnosis of cancer. When I waited in the front of the hospital for a tram, a lady approached me, almost the same age as I am, and asked which tram she had to take to visit some place in Vienna. I knew the place, so it was easy for me to explain the way to her. She was very thankful. We began talking, and before long I found out she also had cancer and has irradiation treatment daily. >From that moment, our talk became more important for us. I asked her where she was from, and she replied that she came from a village close to Vienna. I then remarked “A long time ago I knew a young lady from your village. I was in love with her. “Suddenly she turned her face to me and cried out “Franz!” I suddenly recognized her, and cried out ‘Maria, it is you, the lady I loved!' Can you imagine? After fifty years we met under these circumstances.”

His remarks made me curious, and I asked “Can you tell me what happened, why did you separate?” He answered:

“It's no secret, I'll tell you. Both of us were students. We wants to be teachers. Maria wanted to study theology because she wanted to teach religion. Later, she felt her calling and vocation as a nun, so she went into a convent. This was the reason for our separation. I needed a lot of time to overcome this blow. Later, I fell in love with another and married.”

I said to Franz: “Did she tell you what happened in her life? He replied:

“Yes, she did, as I was also very curious. She finished studying theology and worked for a short time as a pastoral assistant, but later decided to live in a convent and she remained alone. She told me that she now realized it was a mistake for us to part. She should have stayed with me.”

A couple months later, Franz shared this with me during another irradiation treatment, and he said:

“I bear cancer, this unalterable destiny, with respect and resignation, bit I also still love a life which is full of hope that perhaps, at least one more time, there will be something nice, something that will positively surprise me. I hope this will help me to subdue the bitterness of death.”

  Because Maria was still my patient, I often spoke with her and knew that she met with Franz after their surprise reunion. Unfortunately she died several months after her irradiation treatment. Frank spoke about her often with devotion and gratefulness for having met her again. Later, as I took this picture of him in his bed, his life was almost at its end. He knew this and prepared himself quietly for his last journey. He was a wonderfully pleasant man. He was an optimist. He never held anger or bitterness. He was very content with what life had given to him. This may have been his secret, why it wasn't so difficult for him to say his final goodbye.




"My sickness has also something positive: I feel the care and love of my husband and of my son even more."

In spite of his daily job, her son brought his sick mother to the Radiology each day. The picture, which these two persons exuded through their internal alliance, was very nice…



“I didn't have any other choice: the cancer forced me into naked reality. I had to do something, to fight or give up. Life goes on, I do what I can. I have a very nice son. I'm touched at how he is taking care of everything, how he organizes everything. I'm so happy that I have him.”

Life a thief in the night, the illness took this woman by surprise. Mirjana felt it much worse because she is alone. Her husband left her sometime ago, and her only son had grown and was living on his own. When he heard of what his mother was going through, he immediately moved in with her, and became her strong, yet tender, aide. He went to great lengths to alter his schedule so he could be with his mother, to help her when she needed him the most. She could not do it alone. He accompanied her to her daily irradiation treatments. His presence helped alleviate her suffering, and lifted some of her fear. He became her strong pillar of hope, and at the same time, remained her source of joy.



At my request: "Please, tell me something" - he always laughed, lit his cigarette (he was a passionate smoker) and then he answered: "But what can I say?" - and he laughed again… We spent hours and hours in long conversations about everything. When I started to visit him I had the feeling that he was not doing well and I was ready to be with him and listen to him for as long time as he needed. So we had countless meetings, before his surgery and after his surgery (he already had a couple of them) in his home, in the coffee house etc. Now I must confess: during each meeting with him the clock stopped.

There was no "must", no "I have to do…" or "I have to go…", "I have to say good bye…" etc. This man did not think of tomorrow. Because of his long and complicated disease he learned to live the actual moment - now. He is one of the most free and peaceful men that I have ever met! It was always a pleasure for me to be with him.




“After I was told I have cancer, I disappeared for three days. I make it clear that I wanted to be alone, don't ask ‘why'. There were so many things to think about, I knew I'd never find a satisfactory answer. My body decided to pull a handbrake. My body, which had never failed me, suddenly said ‘no.' In spite of this, I decided to hold my head high, keep smiling, and take it easy. I think I encouraged my health in doing so. I was lucky because they were able to remove the malignant tumor during surgery, and I have remained cancer-free since then. What a big difference it is knowing I no longer have this illness. I follow the regimen of preventative treatment ... chemotherapy and irradiation, to prevent another recurrence. I now have a second chance at life, when the tumor gave me no chance at all! The weight of the treatment causes my health to grow poor, but my physical and psychological conditions changes each day bad, one day good. I know that there are many days, many people I love, waiting for me. With these thoughts, I'd like to express to every one of them how much I appreciate their love, their concern, their energy and support. Through them, I gain the power, spirit and courage to go on. They have helped me move forward. For me, being alive is for me to love and to be loved. I'll never forget the fear reflected in the eyes of my closest and dearest friends. I realize that the fear I saw in their eyes was bigger than the fear I felt myself. It is that kind of love that gave me courage.”

This woman fights. She was just as shocked as others to learn of her unexpected cancer diagnosis. She thinks about life, its meaning, and reassessing her priorities. It's a paradox, but life testifies to it: sometimes a disease can be something like a gift, or a grace. In such a light, a person begins to reassess his or her own life and weigh anew the order and priority of values. Andrea is a very strong woman, who faced her treatment with strength. I would greet her with the words “Our sun is coming” and her warmth would bring sun into my own life. Thank you, Andrea, for your words.



"It's always good to have some joke with you. Especially in such a situation, humor is very important…"

A very likeable and joyful man. He told us, that is, the radiation team, a new joke every day, and at times even a couple of them, since it was also good for us to laugh…