Barb Tarbox: That One Face

(Photo by Greg Southam)

(Photo by Greg Southam)


"This is what dying of lung cancer looks like." That is one of the new warnings on cigarette packages in Canada; but it's the photograph that is truly striking.

It's a picture of a woman on her death bed. Barb Tarbox is bald, emaciated, almost child-like, lying in a tangle of hospital sheets, staring at nothing.

The Edmonton woman died in 1993, but she didn't go quietly. She raged at what cigarettes had done to her, and used the time before her death to speak to thousands of teenagers at schools across the country.

Diagnosed at age 41, she left behind a 10-year old daughter Mackenzie, and that powerful photograph.

It was taken by Edmonton Journal photographer Greg Southam. He teamed up with reporter David Staples to chronicle Barb Tarbox's crusade. That one particular photo, now on cigarette packages, is still painful for Southam to look at, as it is for Mackenzie Tarbox, who is now 19 and a student at the University of Alberta.

"That One Face" was produced by Gillian Rutherford.

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