I have worked as a clinical photographer in the medical illustration department at The Christie since 2005.
I first became aware of The Christie and its excellent reputation during visits with my husband Chris, after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2001. He was treated with radiotherapy and surgery and we felt very lucky at that point to have The Christie nearby.
Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with a second more aggressive tumour two years later, completely unrelated to the first. Back to The Christie he came for more surgery and radiotherapy. We were so impressed by all the staff, particularly the radiotherapy team, who put him at ease and made the time spent there easier to cope with. The after effects of Chris’s treatment were difficult for him to deal with. We were also told we would have only a 20% chance of having children using IVF treatment, which came as a shock to both of us at such a young age.
After Chris had recovered from this second diagnosis, I saw a job advertised at The Christie, for a clinical photographer and I knew I had to go for it. I was offered the job and felt really proud to become a part of the medical illustration team.
In late 2008, after a great deal of thought, we decided to go ahead with IVF. Fortunately for us, the treatment worked and we had our son, Drew in 2009.
After having Drew and realising how lucky we were to have this amazing hospital on our doorstep, I decided I wanted to start my own fundraising project to help generate money for men’s cancer research and help support people in a similar situation to Chris. I started coming up with ideas for projects which would combine my two passions, drumming and photography, and the beat it project was born!
I made a decision to set the bar high at a 50K target, and the idea gradually evolved that I would be taking portraits of 50 drummers and then holding an auction event at an iconic Manchester venue further down the line.
In collaboration with Noel Clarke, Professor of urological oncology at The Christie, I decided to donate the money raised towards funding a live tissue bio-bank, allowing research to be carried out into the specific causes of men’s cancers at the hospital.
The most difficult aspect of the project has been managing the logistics of travelling and organising photo sessions, which can be tricky with high profile drummers who work to an extremely tight schedule. I have been very lucky with most of the people I have contacted so far, who have all been really generous with their time. I have also met some amazing people through the project and managed to get sponsors on board including the British Drum Company in Stockport, a team of craftsmen who build bespoke kits.
The project has ultimately shown me how kind people are, with amazing donations and help coming from people when you least expect it.
So far I have photographed Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili peppers), Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), Ben Thatcher (Royal Blood), along with local drummers Joe Donovan (Blossoms) and Paul Kehoe (Peter Hook and the light); and I hope to secure many more in the coming months… including my personal favourite Dave Grohl of legendary Nirvana/Foo Fighters fame!
Check out the beat it website to keep up to date with the latest news and to donate.
If you are a Manchester based company and would like to contribute to the beat it fund by becoming an official sponsor for the project, please contact Dionne through the beat it website.