Cancer will not beat me!!
My rollercoaster ride of how Art inspired me to overcome my fears for the biggest fight of my life.
When the Doctor told me I had Breast Cancer in March 2018 my whole body was visibly shaking, I couldn’t stop it and never experienced anything like this before. After hearing the word “Cancer” I didn’t hear or say very much after, other than sobbing my heart out and saying I don’t want to die, please don’t let me die. I was not prepared for any of this, there was no lump so how could all this be happening to me. I only had a slight ache in my armpit, and aged 45 was too young for Breast Cancer, which I now know Cancer has no age bounds. None of this seemed real, I just wanted to be home with my family. A Core Biopsy via Ultrasound was to be done immediately and Pathology results a week later.
The bad breast was now officially named “Beastie Boob”. In the shower I could barely touch, look or wash Beastie Boob, it was bruised, ugly, painful from the Biopsy and I hated it!! What do you do whilst waiting for results? Well luckily for me a Fine Art Gallery South of Glasgow, approached me to display some of my work. This gave me mental balance, something positive to focus on and true hope. At this stage I was struggling with the thought of my future and not only taking it day by day but often hour by hour, I was a complete mess, all I could see was black. Results day finally arrived, I met my Consultant at the Hospital with my rock AKA my Husband tightly holding my hand ..I heard the words “Mrs Cameron your booked in for Surgery next Thursday , Mastectomy and full Node clearance”, he continued talking, none of it sunk in. It was like I was in a bubble and couldn’t hear a thing. Yet again I turned to my Photography to shut out reality and the outside world, where it takes me to another world full of magic, a sense of calmness and happiness.
My surgery went well and before I knew it I was back home. It took me a few weeks to get back to doing some Post Processing on images Id taken a few months prior to diagnosis as I could only use one hand, thankfully I’m right handed and my surgery was on the left side. I was still unable to even hold my Camera, let alone use it as I was so weak and sore. I had to make the best of the situation and go through old files to Edit. ..Cancer might have put my life on hold but there was no way it was controlling my love of Photography. Within this time I wrote a full Post Processing tutorial of one of my images from start to finish for a Photography Magazine and also had a selection of my work Published in a Hardback coffee table style book along with six other Landscape photographers.
Once healed up I went on to have eighteen weeks of Chemotherapy. This was my biggest fear of all, I was petrified … Its always the unknown that scares you. I was told to prepare myself for loosing all my hair, yes my entire hair on my body. I cried buckets for days about the whole Chemo process, my Husband, Mum and Sister literally carried me through. Thankfully NHS Scotland give you a Prescription for a Wig. In some places in England ladies sadly don’t have this opportunity. Having to wear a Wig hit me hard, I didn’t make friends with wiggy for a while, but with the support of my family and close friends I learnt to enjoy it and have fun .. Yet again another fear conquered. When I use to have my dark days in bed during chemo, I would browse all my favourite Artists work online and take inspiration. Their images made me smile and allowed me a brief glimpse into my future … For that moment I was teleported to my beautiful Scottish mountains with dreams of going back.
Many days I felt very unfeminine and freakish looking, like people could see through my clothes to my Mastectomy scar. My escape was back to my Art, I buried my head in my little world where anything is possible, it gave me the confidence to hold my head up high, I was alive! Eventually I got through Chemotherapy, albeit a little battered and bruised but I survived it.
I’d like to give a big shout out to my Photography Sponsors Haida Filter who have been very supportive and stood by me from the very start. Checking up on me and making me feel part of the team. Such genuine and friendly people, an honour to work with. Can’t wait to get back working with them and their new exciting innovative products.
Dear Chemotherapy , each time walking out of the Oncology ward I felt you, like poison running through my painful veins that already hurt from my last cycle. I want to scream, swear, lash out and shout at you but at the same time I know your saving my life. You’re in my thoughts each and every hour, it’s like dragging around my worst enemy. You make me feel empty to the core, you’ve stolen my soul, most of the time I don’t recognize myself. Especially when you took my hair, forced me to have my long locks cut into a short style, this was even before I met you but I knew you were due a visit, planned on staying with me for eighteen weeks and then probably some more whilst I kicked your butt out completely. People said how I suited short hair, but it wasn’t my choice was it, it was all yours! Then a few weeks into my first cycle you stole all my hair, why ….? Why are you so cruel. I didn’t cry, I wouldn’t let you bring me down, well …I was probably already on the floor mentally to be fair, I can only fall so far no matter what shit you bring me. Why did you have to take my eyes? They streamed constantly as you stole my eyelashes, not to mention the same with my nose hair! One day I hope they find a cure for Cancer and you will have no purpose to exist. I hope they eradicate all the suffering you do to us all.
October was Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought it appropriate to open up and talk about my journey on Social media. To my surprise, I received many messages of support from fellow photographers who told me their stories of how Cancer had touched their family.
Nothing prepares you for what seems like an endless dark journey but I have to say it’s been an Education. I’ve met the most genuine people along the way and made some very special bonds with a few who have been there for me at my lowest and good times.
I still have three weeks of Radiotherapy to go through, hopefully finished by Christmas. Will continue with my hormone injections every three weeks till next August and tablets for ten years. Once I’m done with active treatment I believe Photography will be my saviour and help rebuild “me“. Photography is in my blood, I will come back bigger and better, watch this space! I am a fighter, Cancer will not beat me!!