The Meaning of Life

« Après une minute de consultation routinière le docteur m’a annoncé la nouvelle. Un grand vide s’est installé dans mon corps. »


Paru dans une série de magazines à l’échelle internationale dont le Washington Post, Stern et Polka, découvrez le témoignage en anglais de la lutte contre le cancer féroce de Philipp, illustré par une série de photos émouvantes prises par son épouse Ana. Ce témoignage d’un jeune couple marié confirme l’importance de dépistages réguliers. Dès le plus jeune âge.

This work is made to be an ode to love. 

At first, Philipp did not want any pictures. “No, thank you,” the young engineer who loved making music, surfing, playing football and traveling didn’t want to be photographed while fighting against cancer. « I am at the worst time of your life, I am in pain and with horrible swellings, and also lost my hair and beard. » But there is Ana, Philipp’s wife and rising photographer. She convinced Philipp to photograph and document their daily life during his fight against testicular cancer, as a couple, for several years, the good experiences and the bad ones. 

Philipp is half Indonesian, half German. Ana grew up in Caracas. He plays guitar, and she sings. The first time she saw him on the beach in Venezuela, when he was studying abroad while she was 21 and about to move to Europe to study, she swore back then she would one day marry him. Between them, since the first day they met, things were obvious, even though Ana was studying in France and Philipp was living in Venezuela. For four years, they lived in perfect harmony in a distant relationship before moving together in Hamburg and getting married in 2015 on the shortest day of the year on the small Danish island of Langeland. 

The diagnosis came a year later. One evening, Philipp felt a pain in his groin. Lying on the bed, he noticed that one of his testicles had grown. Since he had been cycling and playing soccer that day, Ana advised him to see a doctor. The next day he went to the doctor, who after 1 minute of ultrasonic testing, told him that he had testicular cancer and needed immediate surgery.. He went home to tell Ana, who woke up with Philipp in tears. They cried together, but there was no time to overthink. They had to react very quickly. 

Testicular cancer is a rare one while being the most common among young men between 15 to 35 years. When found in its early stages, the chances of remission are very high.

Philipp had the surgery and after 6 weeks went straight back to work and to play sports again. He decided to avoid chemotherapy at this stage and to remain with regular check-ups on a quarterly basis. Even though he felt great, only 6 months later, the doctors saw his tumor markers skyrocketing again which indicated that the cancer was metastasizing in his body. A CT scan later, they found a tiny metastasis in his lymph nodes. The only option was an aggressive chemotherapy for three months. Philipp asked Ana to cut his hair before starting the therapy. The doctors first implanted a port onto his chest directly connecting to his main vein to inject “heavy metals” into the blood flow from his arm to the heart. A gate for the chemotherapy to kill every fast-growing cell, whether good or bad. 

Since that day, they have been fighting the disease together.

For three months, Philipp alternated between hospital stays and phases of immense fatigue, pain and heavy swellings at home. He describes this feeling as a « permanent and intense general malaise. » He, who was so active, saw his body becoming slower and heavier. There were moments of long baths to remove the pain, small walks, and short trips—a pause to heal.

Little by little, the chemotherapy sessions were ending. Philipp was slowly able to get back his former energy levels and to resume his career as a product manager in the renewable energy sector. Ana and Philipp moved to Bilbao where they both could be closer to nature.

Philipp has been healthy ever since, both are expecting their first child. Ana and Philipp decide to share this photo documentary for a good cause. They feel it is necessary to talk about men’s health, to remove the taboo, and to motivate men to go for regular check-ups for any cancer or mental health issue. 

Retrouvez tout le projet de Philipp et Ana sur leur site et leur podcast