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Pete, Battle Cancer Photographer

I remember coming home from art college in 1991 at the tender age of 16 to find my mum and dad sat together in the front room. I’d probably had some thrash metal hammering on my Walkman as I walked home and was in a little world of my own. As I walked in they called me in and broke the news.

My mother was a strong, independent, witty, loving woman who was a pillar of the family. She had been diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia and given around 2 years to live. I didn’t understand what it meant or what to do but I was shaken to the core to see my mother crying and struggling to hold it together in front of me. This beautiful woman who was a tower of strength had never, to me, been weak. I never fully appreciated how she protected me as a child and ensured she was a stable part of my life.

Through a mix of her personal strength of character and drug trials my mother survived a further 11 years. We were lucky to have her for so much longer than was the norm for this condition, but the journey was a tough one for my father and us three sons.

The day she finally passed it had been a strange and difficult night. There was a sense of relief mixed with a wave of grief. Relief for her that she wasn’t having to suffer or fight any more but a cavernous grief that she had left such a vast hole in all of our lives.

It has now been many years but not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. The intensity of loss is diminished but she is thought about everyday. Silly little things can trigger a memory or, occasionally, a tear or two. I’ve now got a family and work hard as a creative and often just want to share it all with her. In all I do I just want to make her proud. Proud of the man she helped form and mould all those years ago.

I love what Battle Cancer is creating as a charity movement within the world of fitness. A movement dedicated to helping those who are dealing with some aspect of cancer. There are a number of reasons why I wanted to be involved as one of the photographers in Battle Cancer. My mother, Joyce Estelle Austin, is at the top of that list.

We all have our reasons for being involved. She’s mine.

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