I had the privilege to meet Kay Curtin when I was assigned by the Irish Independent recently, to photograph her for an upcoming article. .
Kay is an advocate for Melanoma awareness, being a stage 4 patient herself. I photographed her at her home in Burncourt, County Tipperary on a beautiful autumn day, ( one of those days that you feel good to be alive but, sometimes take for granted)
At the age of 32 Kay was to discover that she had a melanoma, a mole that had changed its appearance. The mole was excised and she was told that the melanoma had only a 35pc chance of re-occuring Kay agreed to take part in a clinical trial , also grasping the chance of helping and indeed improving her chances of the condition not re-appearing. Over the next two years Kay received numerous injections with various side effects which she describes as " unpleasant", causing swelling and temperatures. However the trial was stopped suddenly and she was told that the treatment had proved ineffective . Kay though was confident that her condition would not return and continued to have regular checks on her moles which were mapped at Cork University Hospital. She continued to get on with her life being a positive person until ten years later she was diagnosed again with stage four cancer, with no options for surgery . Subsequent findings on the drug trail revealed that if patients on the drug trial relapsed , in some cases their condition progressed faster. This explained the sudden halt to the trials. Kay has continued to be an advocate for patient trials and has been receiving regular treatment as her particular mutation allows some medical intervention. This treatment has, Kay says " kept me alive" and she has been travelling to various countries including the U.S. and Europe attending conferences and speaking about the condition. She is also part of of a programme of educating patients together with UCD and other organisations . She works with doctors, researchers and companies helping them to understand patient needs from treatment to living beyond cancer.
Kay say's " I am doing this because I'd like the time that I have left to have purpose " She does though say that she is " on borrowed time ". Kay is now 46. She is very active on social media and blogs about her condition openly and honestly. She has inspired many others to face cancer with a positive attitude having been educated or informed by such activity understanding treatment options available. It was indeed a privilege to meet Kay .