PHOTO by Michelle Eide
Growing up I always knew I wanted to do a job that had a creative element. When I discovered photography as a teenager, everything just clicked. After high school I completed a 2-year Diploma of photography then spent the next 17 years working hard for other photographers and learning from industry leaders. Finally the day came when I had the confidence, experience and business know how to setup on my own. Then rented a space big enough to offer a multi faceted service. I was just becoming established when I life took a crazy turn for the worse.
At age 34 during "Pinktober" I accidently found a lump in my breast. I say accidently because I wasn’t checking for it and I thought you couldn’t develop breast cancer until you were in your 40’s. I was uneducated to the fact you should be checking from the time you develop breasts. I was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma breast cancer. Treatment would be a mastectomy and full auxiliary node clearance and then follow up treatment would be advised. I was hoping I would have surgery and be back at work in 8 weeks. Sadly this was not the case after surgery I had the result of stage 4 cancer that was hert 2 positive and I needed to have 15 months of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation. I was also faced with the fact that chemotherapy could make me go into permanent menopause so freezing some eggs might be my only option for having my own baby. So I started a round of IVF immediately and had eggs harvested before I started the gruelling chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is more horrible then you can ever imagine. While it is there to keep you alive long term, short term it sends you into a dark place mentally and physically. Thankfully I had my love of travel, a big dream of being successful in my own business and developing as an artist to keep me inspired and entertained, during the sickness and isolation of chemotherapy. Not forgetting the amazing networks of family and friends who provided endless support, encouragement and distraction.
When I reached the end of the harsh chemo I had Trish Rudd take this portrait to mark the end of that part of the journey. When I looked at it I didn't recognise the person staring back from the photo. It looked like I had lost my sparkle and at the time, after 6 surgeries and treatment, that’s just how I felt too!
It was then I decided that I wanted to have a fabulous very feminine portrait taken (as soon as my eyelashes grew back). I also wanted to do the same for other cancer patients who are going through treatment and probably feeling the same way. A plan was hatched to make an inspiring calendar with Belinda, a make up artist from Bellamore, to raise funds for Beautiful You. From this experience I have developed a Pay it forward photography session so I can now gift photography sessions to people who are surviving and thriving with cancer.
The reason for sharing this story with you is to make sure you have checked your breasts during "Pinktober" the breast cancer awareness month, have the chat with your teenage daughters and start on a regular check. Early detection is the key to surviving. Did you know 42 women are diagnosed each day from breast cancer in Australia, 7 women die from breast cancer every day in Australia, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
The national breast cancer foundation goal is to achieve zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. There is still much research to do. Donating to this cause will save a life of someone you love in the future. You can give directly at https://my.nbcf.org.au/donatenow or you can enquire about Pay it forward photography session with Empire art photography and we will explain the details to you. Book now phone 0417 625 119