Primary bone cancer is a brutal disease and patients face harsh treatments, including life-altering surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. For those affected and their loved ones, the impact of a diagnosis is felt throughout treatment and beyond as they try to return to their new normal.

Close to the Bone is a unique project that documents every aspect of a patient’s journey with the disease and is a collaboration between patients, photographer Caroline Seymour, and consultant orthopaedic oncology surgeon Prof Tom Cosker.

Through the medium of photography, this exhibition aims to tell the story of what a primary bone cancer diagnosis entails: including the various forms of treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, and the impact on those around them in a powerful series of black and white images. The images do not flinch from the truth but aim to show the bravery, beauty and dignity that exist during the most desperate of human situations.

Caroline Seymour, photographer, said:

When Tom asked if I would be interested in doing a collaborative project, photographing some of his sarcoma patients on their journeys through this disease, I had no hesitation in answering yes. As a photographer, to have access to normally inaccessible spaces as operating theatres and radiotherapy suites with permission to take photographs, it was a no-brainer. Then as a person, just to be able to witness and share some of the stages of these journeys with the patients he selected, was the most enormous privilege.

It is impossible to overstate how meaningful and important this project has been. I have learned so much – about the surgical procedures, about this particular form of cancer, and from the patients themselves, what it is like to live with this disease. I hope that my photographs convey something of all this.

Prof Tom Cosker, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, added:

I am hugely excited to be working with Caroline Seymour and the Bone Cancer Research Trust to launch our national exhibition Close to the Bone.

This exhibition is a story from the patient’s perspective about their experience of diagnosis, treatment and follow up – the part that we, as clinicians, often do not see: the human side of the story. Our patients face an enormous and challenging journey which for many will prove to be life-changing in nature.

Their individual stories about how they have dealt with these challenges really comes across in this exhibition. Caroline has brought the patient's journey to life in her black and white photography by capturing the thoughts, emotions, and feelings of the patients and bringing out some of the subtleties of the complex work that we do.

Zoe Davison, Head of Research, Support & Information at the Bone Cancer Research Trust, shared:

Patients are at the heart of everything we do at the Bone Cancer Research Trust, and so when we were approached by Tom and Caroline about supporting their Close to the Bone exhibition, we jumped at the chance.

The bravery of patients that took part is humbling. We are truly grateful to them for allowing the world a glimpse of everything they have endured to help raise awareness of primary bone cancer.

Surgery was highlighted as an area of priority during our stakeholder research, and so having the opportunity to work closely and build relationships with the surgical community has been hugely important.

Exhibition Tour Dates

  • LEEDS: Preview at The Bone Idols Award Ceremony on the 3rd February
  • DUBLIN: At the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland during their Charter Week between the 6th and 9th February
  • GLASGOW: At the Royal College of Surgeons between 17th and 29th April
  • OXFORD: At Balliol College in May or June. Confirmed dates will be announced soon.
  • LONDON: At the Royal College of Surgeons in August. Confirmed dates will be announced soon.

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