Diane Leopard discusses inspiring photo project on UK Health Radio

Diane Leopard 3.jpgFHT Fellow Diane Leopard was recently interviewed for UK Health Radio to discuss a photography project she has launched to raise cancer awareness and help support those affected.

Interviewed by UK Health Radio’s Jenni Russell for the Her Health and Happiness show, Diane told her how she had purchased a camera with prize money from winning an FHT Excellence Award in 2015.

She then joined an adult education class to learn how to use the camera and was required to complete a final project about ‘a journey’. Diane decided to use this opportunity to reflect on her own personal cancer journey, by taking outdoor photographs that were symbolic of the different stages of her cancer journey and the emotions she had experienced.

1 castle Northumberland_low_res.jpg

Diagnosis – This picture of Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland represents how Diane felt when the consultant told her that she had breast cancer. In the foreground of this picture you can see people going about life as normal while Diane’s life came tumbling down.

After presenting the project to her classmates, Diane was overwhelmed by the response and felt compelled to expand the project, first taking it into a local hospice and Pink Sisters, a breast cancer support group. Diane has since given a talk at a Stoke-on-Trent FHT Local Group meeting and has spoken to hospice staff on several occasions about the emotional impact of cancer and how they can help to support clients/patients.

In the interview Diane goes on to talk about her journey with cancer, how her life became uncertain after a diagnosis, and discusses the meaning behind each photo.

Speaking about the project, Diane says, “As a complementary therapist working with cancer patients I thought I understood cancer but nothing had prepared me for the emotional impact of a diagnosis. Since then I have taken a series of nature photographs to represent the emotional impact of cancer called ‘Focus on Emotions’. This represents not only my story but also emotions and feelings that have been shared by many other cancer patients all with different stories to tell and my family.  The images are natural, unedited other than the occasional crop and not staged.  They are often everyday scenes for example sunrise, sunset, flowers, beaches things most of us have experienced.  During the presentation I explain at little bit about each image and why I chose it. I then let the  audience have a few moments to reflect on what the image means to them.

4 tunnel of treatment_low_res

Tunnel of treatment, this is a poisonous laburnum arch with purple allium flowers standing tall and strong below. The laburnum represents chemotherapy and the allium are the medical staff who care for patients during treatment. The light at the end is where everyone hopes to be after treatment. Taken at the Dorothy Clive Gardens.

“I deliver the talk and exhibition to health care professionals, cancer patients, work colleagues and the general public. I want people to understand the devastating emotional impact cancer has on lives.  If people can have an insight to our emotions I am convinced that cancer patients will have an improved quality of treatment and recovery.  Cancer changes lives but that’s not always a bad thing.  I now see the beauty that surrounds us all yet many of us take for granted.

“The response from health care professionals, cancer patients and the public has been amazing, it has resonated with so many people.  Comments have included: – ‘that is one of the best presentations I have ever heard’ and ‘thank you, you’ve helped me to understand what my father must have gone through’.

“By looking at these images people seem to able to relate to their own emotions which may be cancer related or relate to other difficult life experiences such as bereavement, divorce and life changing illnesses.”

Listen to the full interview here

In addition, Diane has also published guest blogs on the project, highlighting her work on various websites, including Baba Baboon and Ticking Off Breast Cancer.

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