Living with SMART: A Visual Journey of Resilience

When Brandon was 12 years old, in November 2006, he had severe headaches while returning from family holidays in Spain and was later diagnosed with cancer. He had brain surgery and after it followed long road to recovery with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.      Years later, when Brandon was 17 years old, he tripped and fell, which led to a stroke that led to the discovery of SMART syndrome. Brandon was given the news that he has a new brain tumour in June 2018. Brandon experienced a stroke without any associated trauma in December 2022, which had an impact on his ability to speak and swallow.
SMART syndrome is a rare condition that can affect people after radiation therapy. SMART stands for Stroke like Migraine Attacks after Radiation Therapy. According to Franco et al., 2021, there are about 100 cases of SMART syndrome reported in the literature since it was first time described in 1995. Each attack affects Brandon’s mobility, speech, and memory and quality of life.
A collection of documentary photographs by artist Evija Laivina and beautiful flower images captured by Brandon invites you to delve into a visual narrative that unveils the resilience and fortitude of individuals living with SMART syndrome. Brandon took the photos during our walks around Inverness and at Inverness Botanic Garden. 
At the heart of this exhibition lies the interplay between art and the lived experiences of those affected by this rare condition. Evija Laivina's documentary photographs provide an intimate glimpse into the daily struggles, triumphs, and moments of vulnerability faced by individuals with SMART syndrome. Brandon's poetic and ethereal flower images, infused with meticulous attention to detail, symbolize the universal language of hope—a reminder that even amidst the darkest of times, there exists the potential for renewal, growth, and the blossoming of the human spirit.
Franco, O., Anzolin, E., Medeiros, M. S., Castilhos, R. M., Martins, R. T., & Moser Filho, H. L. SMART Syndrome Identification and Successful Treatment. Case Reports in Neurology13(1), 40-45.
This is a Culture Collective project funded by Scottish Government managed by Creative Scotland.

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