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Recognise Yourself Photo Shoot - An Interview with Sam Reynolds
Recognise Yourself Photo Shoot
An Interview with Sam Reynolds
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I have had breast cancer three times. My first diagnosis was in 2006 and my last was last February 2014 when I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I always kept a diary throughout and wanted to share my experiences with others to do something positive after having and living with cancer in my 20's and 30's. To offer some solidarity, empathy and understanding not as family, medical team or friend but just as someone who 'gets it' and can hand hold through the rabbit hole that is cancer. I started a blog called SamSpace after meeting Jennifer back in 2013 and have been writing ever since and loving it. I used to work as a PA in the film industry but after my first diagnosis I went part time and I am now a full-time mum and am able to juggle writing and mothering. I am very lucky.
Why did you kindly agree to model at the Recognise Yourself photo shoot?
I am very willing to do anything that helps others and promotes positivity through cancer but also to show how all kinds of real women at all ages can live and survive through a diagnosis. I also massively admire Jennifer and love her positivity and was honoured to be a part of her ideas.
Was it a hard decision for you to make?
No, one of the easiest!
What was your favourite part of the day?
I loved having my make up done. It's very calming and relaxing. I loved chatting to everyone and hearing all their stories and experiences. Watching all the ladies laughing and smiling despite everything they had been through or were going through was so heart warming and seeing Evelyn try on a new wig with beautiful make up and looking so gorgeous and astonished at her own reflection was priceless.
Were any parts of the day daunting?
Standing in front of a camera with all of those lights was definitely daunting.
How were you helped through them? Please can you give an example if you did feel daunted at some point?
Katherine made me laugh as she took photos on my phone and Claudio and his assistant talked to me a lot and told me what to do. It is a weird feeling being under all those lights and with a camera staring at you so blankly. I felt very exposed and vulnerable, almost as if I had to perform and do a show! Jennifer was hugely complimentary and all the girls supported each other. saying how lovely we all looked and how glamorous. There was a lot of solidarity in the room. I always feel a bit insecure around strangers and new people, though don’t always show it, and because it meant a lot to me, I did feel slightly apprehensive at the start of the day.
Did you learn anything during the day? Please can you tell us about your learning?
I learnt how important it is to know you are not the only one going through something like this and it doesn’t matter if you are young or old, if you had it last month or twenty years ago, those of us there were total strangers in some cases and yet we all clicked because of one major thing in common, a disease. Rather than being a negative, it became a positive and I found that hugely inspiring.
Has the day changed the way you will do anything in the future?
It has made me feel I am on the right track in my own journey, working with amazing people to bring solidarity to all patients and do something constructive with my blogs and website. It has made me more determined and reassured me that it is a good thing to do and to follow your gut and trust it. It has also made me realise how good it is to talk to other people about their own experiences and listen and how someone you may not have expected to be keen to be involved with things like this, might actually just like to be asked as it makes them feel special too.
Do you think that the book will help people to recognise themselves?
Yes. I haven’t seen any content but I think generally speaking, having all of those ladies together with their own stories may help give a positive and refreshing image to cancer and hope and positivity and show you can survive and still look like you. I also think it may make ways of doing this more clear and obtainable rather than being something only wealthier people may have been able to do if unwell.
What does the phrase ‘Recognise Yourself’ mean to you?
It means remembering the person inside who is brave and strong for coping with a situation that is scary. It means knowing that despite outward appearances you can still feel beautiful and you should always nurture yourself. It means knowing you deserve to be gorgeous come what may. It means trusting in yourself to be as amazing as you are.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Thank you for the opportunity to do this and to be a part of a fantastic book/idea/dream come true xx