Laetitia Vilon

Laetitia was a very self-willed young woman, very attentive to others, in fact she was a great listener, and anyone talking to hear could believe they were the most important person in her life. Her eyes had a unique tendency to fill with tears when confronted with suffering. Very early on she had an acute sense of justice, always putting the plight of others before her own problems.

On this topic following is what Laetitia wrote after numerous consultations resulting in conflicting conclusions: “This morning I sorted, and then relived all those trips to different hospitals, trips to find a way out of my sickness; a way out of a dead-end diagnosis. It’s crazy to dive back into this madness, to revisit the doctors’ speeches, the verdict that falls after just a few minutes… Not even time to build false hopes… It’s hard to even ask questions for fear of the answers… As I stand before them terrified, breathless, trembling, listening, to the words, the sentences that always predict an uncertain future. The power of life and death is in their hands; our life no longer belongs to us… and neither does our death. It will be others who decide. I understand. I accept. But I also condemn their violent clumsiness that shatters the body and heart of the one they are talking to.

By her side we lived years of happiness. Happiness can be short lived but incredibly fulfilling. Our hearts are forever linked, and few of us will ever have the luck to find someone to show them truth so clearly.

From her very first steps her foot seemed to bother her. It always bothered her, preventing her from participating in any sports, the smallest jump or jolt triggering intense pain.

At the time the medical experts couldn’t detect anything. Several treatments were tried without success, repeated ultra sounds even resulted in serious burns. A first operation did nothing to improve her condition, on the contrary, it made her worse. Her foot started to swell, and our general practitioner ordered a CAT scan, then an MRI, and finally a biopsy which resulted in the first correct diagnosis. Fortunately she was referred to a good surgical team in Paris, a conservative surgical intervention was carried out, supplemented with several sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

One month after the end of the treatments she resumed a normal life, continuing her studies and picking up a job. She lived this period to the utmost, taking advantage of every moment, every chance encounter, all the while submitting herself to the regular check-ups and consultations, and keeping her smile and a renewed hope in the future and full recovery. Then she discovered photography… She decided to make photography her main pursuit, signed up for courses at the ETPA, and we are without doubt that the ensuing period was the happiest time in her life; never had she been so fulfilled, independent, free, in short, she had found her calling.

Unfortunately, the relapse put an end to this happy period. Once again, nature proves to be stronger than science. Again she had to face another medical team, more surgery, and repeated chemotherapy. All without success.

Throughout her infirmity, and despite the difficult treatments she was undergoing, she continued to take pictures. She was trying to make sense of what she was living through, wanting to bear witness to an existence under which she was suffering, tolerating with dignity the polite concern of others. Her photography helped her escape these cares, letting her enjoy the few carefree moments that had become so rare.

This is what she wrote in February 2002:

“When we feel fragile, we need a sense of protection, as if we were wrapped in a bubble. This bubble can be anything as long as it surrounds us and gives us pleasure. This pleasure, this envelope, other than the people that I love, comes in the form of ‘places’. Places that I’ve chosen, or places that have been imposed on me because of what I’m living through, soft within and comfortably routine, I have wanted to capture them in images. I absolutely want to reveal this den of pain where everyone seems themselves in the look of others, this story of the rebuilding of beings, of the intimate war that we wage against ourselves”.

She departed the 19th of November as elegantly as she had lived, leaving to themselves those who she had loved.

About Sarcoma Alliance

The Sarcoma Alliance strives to improve the lives of people affected by sarcoma through accurate diagnosis, improved access to care, guidance, education and support.