Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Holly Hamer, 19, student, Warrington

“Some people choose to wear a wig, but I wanted to embrace being bald.”

“It’s crazy how life changes, cancer really makes you discover how strong you are. I appreciate the small, simple things in life now. I look at the world in a much more positive way. Although I have lost touch with friends along the way – some just can’t be there for you anymore – the close friends and family who are there for me, I cherish.

“I don’t like swimming or showing off my body anymore. I have a colostomy bag, and they are just associated with old people. I also struggled when I first lost my hair, as people used to stare at me. Sometimes I miss being able to just run my fingers through it, too. Now, though, I feel it’s empowering, and when I look at myself in the mirror it reminds me what I’ve been through and I’m still here fighting. Some people choose to wear a wig, but I wanted to embrace being bald and that helped me deal with it.

“I did have a boyfriend when I was first diagnosed, but now I have been single for a year. I would love to share my life with someone, but it would have to be someone who could cope with my sarcoma and all the things that come with that. The treatment I have undergone means I can never have children, but I would definitely consider adopting or using a surrogate, so a future partner would be able to have children.

“I have just learnt to drive, so now I have a little bit more freedom and am not just confined to my bedroom anymore. But my art has also given me a platform in which to express myself, it's a lot like therapy because I can put my heart and soul into each piece. I've always been artistic but only the past couple of years have I started creating paintings. 

“My advice to other sarcoma patients would be to surround yourself with people who make you feel loved. And to always appreciate the good things in your life, and try to find the positives in every situation. Allow yourself to express how you’re feeling because bottling everything up isn't healthy. 

“Raising awareness of sarcoma is vital. I'm very lucky to have been diagnosed in time because I have parents in the medical profession, but others don't know about it, which means others are often diagnosed too late. I love these portraits photos of me for the Sarcoma and You portrait series, they make me feel a bit better about myself after seeing them, they make me feel powerful. I would like to think others will appreciate my story I hope they will also see that these images represent strong-willed people.”

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