There is no one untouched by cancer. You may not have had it yourself, but the chances that you have lost someone you loved to the dreaded “c”-word are high. At the very least, you’ve likely known someone who’s had to find an unprecedented level of determination – or grit – within the deepest part of themselves in order to survive. Grit is the theme for the fourth annual Gilda’s Club calendar.
Entitled Raw & Reflective, the calendar shares the raw photos and reflective stories of 12 local people who are – or were – living with cancer. It can be easy to lose sight of the people behind the illness, but the calendar brings them to life, if only for the time it takes to read the story, as two of the models have already left us.
The photos are in a moody black and white showing both the strength and the vulnerability of these people living with cancer. As Aaron Lutes, Executive Director of Gilda’s Club Simcoe Muskoka says in the calendar, “No one has ever invited a cancer diagnosis into their home. Cancer is an uninvited guest that is dirty, rough, and raw at every interaction. A journey or trek that is full of grit and abrasion that wears you down in the slowest of ways. Sandpaper on your spirit, desires, and dreams.”
Sharon Smith and a committee of volunteers are the people behind the calendar fundraiser. “The previous three calendars have raised around $75,000 for Gilda’s in Simcoe-Muskoka, and this year’s promises to be a success as well.”
Photographers, graphic designers, hairstylists, and printers all donate their time and services for the fundraiser, and many come back, year after year. “The only cost is paper and ink. The rest of the money goes to Gilda’s,” says Greg, Sharon’s husband and one of the volunteers.
Gilda’s Club Simcoe-Muskoka provides a place where people living with cancer and their families and friends can gather for support. Their programming includes support groups, healthy lifestyle workshops, mind-body classes, social activities, educational lectures, and community resource information.
Sometimes having cancer can be the loneliest time in a person’s life and having the ability to share experiences with those who understand can make a challenging time a little easier. That support can mean the difference between having hope or a sense of isolated despair. Gilda’s Clubs provide the space for support and the participants provide the hope.
The calendars went on sale Sept. 12 and can be purchased online from Gilda’s or in person at Connect Hair Studio, Barrie.
TEXT KARI KLASSEN | PHOTOS ROWELL PHOTOGRAPHY, GAIL SHOTLANDER, JUSTIN DADSWELL