What loss or trauma would you like to share a story about?
Two weeks after my 18th birthday, I was diagnosed with lymphoma, or Hodkin’s disease. I was given chemo and radiotherapy, and lost not only my long blond hair, but my body was also scarred by the harsh treatment.
How did you handle it at the time? What did it mean for you?
I was still too young to realise that there was something seriously wrong with me. I followed my mum to the various appointments, operations and hospital treatments entirely unaware.
The photo shoots with Vanessa Vigna who founded vzw Warriors also helped me to beat the disease mentally through free photo shoots.
I agreed to have a photo shoot done after my chemo treatment with my bald head and I became a fighter and a true WARRIOR.
Vanessa came up with the idea of setting up “VZW WARRIORS AGAINST CANCER” based on me as a WARRIOR, as her muse and later on other young cancer patients, to collect money through the sale of the art photos and other merchandising to support the psychological and physical aftercare for cancer patients, the WARRIORS.
Where do you stand in life today?
Mentally, I grew up very quickly, at a very young age. Fighting for my life became my priority rather than partying, studying and travelling. I try to enjoy the little things every day and avoid discussions about trivial things.
Are there issues related to this event that you are grateful for today?
This event gave me a different perspective on life than my peers. I know that life can be over in the click of a finger. I have learnt that I alone can determine my happiness and no one else. I also find it easy to put things in perspective.
And so, to complete the circle... My osteopath actually saved my life. Thanks to his golden hands, he noticed that my lymph glands felt abnormal and raised the alarm. I was given the lymphoma diagnosis in oncology. And yes, as you can already guess, I also wanted to help people the same way, so after my treatment I started studying osteopathy.
Which woman do you look up to?
My mum. I admire her mental strength and the love she can always give, on the good days as well as the bad days in life.