Preparing a stage debut or trekking the Camino aren’t the first things women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to consider, but an inspiring photo exhibition touring the country shows no reason to stop making plans.
Out the Other Side: Stories of Breast Cancer Survival is a collection of photographs and stories of Irish women who have not only survived breast cancer but thrived in its wake.
It has just come to Cork University Hospital (CUH), where it will be on view for September, with the aim of providing hope and reassurance to women dealing with the often devastating diagnosis that they have cancer.
All the women who feature know how hard it is to hear those words and to endure the arduous treatments that follow. However, they have gone on to regain their health and embrace new challenges such as taking to the stage and completing the Camino de Santiago trek.
Prof Seamus O’Reilly, consultant oncologist at CUH, fully endorses the idea of letting art assist medicine.
“In Ireland today, the majority of women with breast cancer will be cured and it is important for them and their families to see a life beyond cancer,” he said.
The exhibition was developed by the Marie Keating Foundation with the help of Roche Pharmaceuticals, and the images are by photographer Gerry Andrews, who was driven to get involved after losing his wife to breast cancer 12 years ago.
“If she had been diagnosed today, the chances are that with the huge advances in research and development of new medicines, she would come out the other side. I wanted to contribute in whatever way I could to highlight the issue,” he said.
Liz Yeats, chief executive of the Marie Keating Foundation, said she hoped the exhibit would be a comfort and support to women going through cancer treatment.
“All of the women featured in the exhibition are living proof that it is possible not only to come out the other side of a breast cancer diagnosis, but to thrive and grow after it. “
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