I was introduced to Astri Setyo Wahyuni by Inez Nimpuno, a friend who is a breast cancer survivor.
Astri was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 1 in 2012. After much persuasion she was finally convinced to leave alternative medication and seek medical treatment in July 2014. She was immediately put through chemotherapy and survived it. She was back on her feet and even took a road trip for Ied Celebration. Upon return she had another check up on July 25, 2015 and MRI result showed that cancer cells have spread to multiple body parts.
After taken Astri’s weak physique into consideration, doctors offered radiology for immediate treatment. During our first encounter, Astri could hardly talk as her head pounding and her whole body aching due to the radiotherapy she went through that morning. She unnecessarily apologized to me for not being able to speak with me.
The next day she was chirpier and ate the veggie stuffed rice snack called arem-arem that I brought. She was getting ready for yet another radiotherapy session that she had to go through every day. Never in our conversation Astri implied she regretted not turning to medical help earlier. She accepted that it was her life journey. Now that takes strong determination. It’s easier to break down and point finger to everybody else including God when things go sour and bad for us.
Astri said she agreed to be photographed so that her life can be meaningful to others when she’s gone. I can only hope the images of hers that I share can move people as I was moved by this young lady.
Astri had to go through radiotherapy on daily basis, as her body allowed it. When I visited her the second time, I came right before they took her for yet another radiotherapy. It was my first time accompanying someone to a hospital radiology section.
When the nurses pushing her bed into the treatment room, Astri asked them to allow me and her mother to tag along so that I could photograph her. Her mother thanked me for being there. If it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t have had the chance to witness how her daughter get prepped for radiotherapy. Astri pointed her finger to me affirming what her mother told me. As soon as she was ready for the treatment, her mother and I were asked to leave the room.
Astri spent 44 days at the hospital. In the early morning of September 5, 2015 she rested in peace leaving a widower and three young children.
Setyo Utami, Astri’s mother, was waiting for me at the hospital’s aisle in front of Astri’s room. She was ready to tell all immediately after I introduced myself.I lent my ears to her for at least 30 minutes outside of the room and the rest of my 4 hours visit. I can only imagine how heavy her heart must have been. Utami never left her daughter’s hospital bedside, sleeping on the floor.
I called Utami a couple of weeks ago and after a brief exchange she was crying. She once told me that as parent, it never crossed her mind that she would be the one watching her child dying, fighting terminal stage of breast cancer. Utami now takes care of her three grandchildren for Astri’s widower. I wonder how much time she needs to get her broken heart healed.
From our brief encounters, she told me repeatedly that she hoped her story moved people and that her life was meaningful to others. I can only hope the photos of hers that I share fulfill her wish.