Chris Carberry, 21, was one of six young people from around the UK picked by CLIC Sargent to take part in a photo shoot at Richard Young's London studio as part of the charity's #NoFilter4Cancer campaign.
Photographer Richard Young has taken pictures of superstars such as David Bowie, Joan Collins, Kate Moss, Angelina Jolie, Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder but he has described his latest work to photograph Chris as his ‘most important.’
The photography is part of CLIC Sargent’s month-long awareness campaign called #NoFilter4Cancer, which reveals the ‘hidden costs’ of cancer for young people through body image, self-care and mental health issues which Chris has first-hand experience of.
Chris is a keen golfer, based out of Grange Park Golf Club, St Helens, and when he started to get pains in his leg, he put it down to a sporting injury, continuing his work as a bricklayer, and even won a golfing tournament. But one day at work his leg gave way, and he was in huge pain.
After two unsuccessful, frustrating and painful trips to his NHS walk-in centre, he went to A&E at his local hospital where they found that he had broken his thighbone. Despite the break and the pain, he attended his sister’s wedding the next day.
Further investigation by doctors found osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Chemotherapy made Chris extremely sick and was not successful - the tumour grew - so he made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated which was followed by immunotherapy. He’s now out of treatment and in rehab with his prosthetic leg.
“After being given the options, I argued non-stop for days with my mum and dad. I was keen to save my leg, however they were keener on saving my life.
"It came down to leg or life ultimately, and I opted to save my life and sacrifice my leg after three long days of debate.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life and hopefully one that will probably never be emulated ever again!”
Chris underwent treatment at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, the place where he’d been working on a building project for a new radiotherapy machine just three months earlier.
“If I’m being very honest, I felt quite confident about the whole chemo malarky. I think it was because I was extremely fit and very tough mentally. But I was in for the biggest surprise of my life. It made me feel like nothing else I’d ever come across before.”
The #NoFilter4Cancer campaign is close to Chris’s heart as he is adjusting to life with his prosthetic leg and he is now keen to raise awareness and give something back to the charity that helped him through it.
Following his diagnosis, Chris was supported by a CLIC Sargent Social worker who arranged grants, helped him to apply for benefits and arranged wishes and treats like tickets to the Scottish Open in 2016.
“My CLIC Sargent Social Worker Karen is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, and I got that impression from day one.
"She is someone who really cares about their job. She was one of those people that you can have a laugh with, but at the same time talk seriously with, and for that she gained my upmost trust, which was quite hard earned in the circumstances.
“Being in a photoshoot was a great experience. Richard was great with us all and told us to embrace our imperfections. I agreed with him and thought that was great and I could see how uplifting it was for everyone. Cancer has affected us all in different ways, and whatever they may, be I believe people should embrace them and not let cancer get them down”
Richard Young said: “Throughout my career I have photographed many celebrities, however this CLIC Sargent campaign has been by far the most important job of my photographic life”
Kate Lee, Chief Executive at CLIC Sargent, said: “Together with young people like Chris, we are exposing the hidden costs of cancer and talk about what life really looks like for them. This campaign gives young people the power to explore body image and mental health issues and tell it how it is, unfiltered.”
Chris now blogs about his experiences to help other young cancer patients. Visit his blog to find out more or search for ‘The Next Step For Chris’ on Facebook.
About cancer in children and young people
Today, 11 more children and young people in the UK will hear the devastating news that they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.
About CLIC Sargent
When cancer strikes young lives CLIC Sargent helps families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health. CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families. We provide specialist support, to help and guide each young cancer patient and their family. We will fight tirelessly for them, individually, locally and nationally. For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk