Sarah Collinson is 27, and receiving treatment for breast cancer. She's taken a Diana Mini with her to show you her day to day life during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Read on to find out why you should all Coppafeel!
Name: Sarah Collinson
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I love to cook and bake, although the results sometimes don’t compare to my enthusiasm! I love being outdoors, fresh air, exploring and finding beautiful scenery. I lived in Edinburgh before I moved to London and I always escape to Scotland when London life is becoming a bit hectic. I live with my boyfriend, Fraser, in our lovely little flat in North London where I continually attempt to be green fingered – so far very few successes! I work in management consultancy – trying to improve customer service in banks, which I think is the most noble of banking jobs!
How and why did you get involved with Coppafeel?
After I was diagnosed, my friends and I were so shocked that you could get breast cancer so young. However, I was surprised by just how many people knew someone young who had breast cancer. I thought if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone and was telling my friends to check themselves. I came across CoppaFeel by accident one afternoon on the sofa whilst recovering from chemo. I loved their message and feel so strongly that what they were doing could save lives… and boobs! My tumour had grown to be pretty big by the time I found it, meaning I had to have the whole breast removed, I often wonder if I had come across CoppaFeel before – would I have found it earlier and saved my breast?
How has your life changed since your diagnosis?
I’ve become a lot more focused on me! Before I was diagnosed, I worked pretty hard, often prioritising my health and well-being behind my job. Since my diagnosis, it’s a cliché but I’ve definitely had my eyes opened to what’s important in life. Someone once said to me ’you’ll never get to retirement and wished you’d spent more time at work’ so I’m trying to live by that and get a better balance. I’ve also become very interested in food and diet and the impact on your health, so although far from perfect myself, I’ve become a total nag to my family and friends trying to get them eat good things – I think at the moment they feel they have to listen ;-) Besides all this, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in the inspirational work that CoppaFeel! are doing which is absolutely fantastic!
How did you find out you had breast cancer?
I had taken 2 months out to travel with my boyfriend in India. Whilst we were there, I found a hard lump in the top of my left breast. We visited a doctor in India with the objective of ruling out anything sinister so we could get on with travelling – unfortunately he didn’t think it was nothing. However, still determined not to give up on our holiday and convinced that I was too young for the C word, we called my GP at home. She agreed that I was very young and it was incredibly unlikely and yes, I should just carry on with my holiday. So we did, we carried on travelling and when I got home, I was referred to hospital – I even delayed that to go skiing. Unfortunately it was confirmed at that first ultrasound appointment, when I finally made it to hospital, that it was an abnormal lump and then the next day I got the confirmation of cancer. I then had an incredibly nervous wait whilst I was scanned by lots of different machines to check it hadn’t spread anywhere else and fortunately it hadn’t and for that I count my luck everyday.
What stage of treatment are you at now?
I was diagnosed in mid March and since then, I’ve had a mastectomy, chemo over the summer and I’ve just finished a course of radiotherapy – you’ll see my celebrations in the pictures! No surprises then that my body feels like it’s been under attack – so although treatment is over I’m still feeling the effects! I now have to take some hormone pills for a looong time (think the next 5 years) which basically makes it more difficult for any cancer to grow in my body by taking away what it uses to grow.
You’ve taken the Diana Mini around with you in your day to day life for a couple of weeks. Where did you take it?
I took it with me to Kent, where my friend has just moved to and we took it to the seaside. I then took it along to my friend’s 30th birthday party, themed ‘unacceptable in the 80s’ – I should say a friend loved my camera so much they decided to commandeer it for a while – so who knows what’s on those pictures!! We then took it along to my final radiotherapy treatment on Monday morning and to the champagne bar in Kings Cross to celebrate!
What advice would you give to everyone else in the big wide world?
Well, besides from checking your boobs always… SMILE and you’ll feel better!
Right Lomographers, if that hasn’t made you want to check your boobs (and man-boobs, guys get it too you know!) then I don’t know what will. Head to the Coppafeel! website for how-to guides, useful information, and super cool campaigns you can get involved in too!
Don’t keep your new found motivation and knowledge to yourself. Scroll down a little and use those share buttons to tell your mates to check themselves out too. You could save a life today!
The Diana Mini is the ultra-compact, petite version of the Diana F+. This camera takes soft-focused, lo-fi images in 35mm and allows you to change between half-format and square shots with a flick of a switch. Get your own Diana Mini now!