Our fight against brain tumours inspired calendar

STILL SMILING: Bridget Dowty and Stefania Distante with a copy of the charity calendar they helped put together.

STILL SMILING: Bridget Dowty and Stefania Distante with a copy of the charity calendar they helped put together.

First published in News Malvern Gazette: Photograph of the Author by

A WORCESTER artist who fought a brain tumour has helped create a calendar to raise money for a charity which helps people like her.

The 2013 calendar has been designed and photographed by two women, both of whom have had tumours diagnosed and undergone surgery to remove them.

Freelance artist and illustrator Bridget Dowty, aged 47, of Worcester, and Stefania Distante, 36, a photographer from Bishops Cleeve, near Cheltenham, met as members of a charity support group and became friends.

They hope the calendar will raise funds for Hammer Out, the South-West based charity that supports brain tumour patients, their carers and families.

Ms Dowty had a brain tumour diagnosed 10 years ago and also underwent surgery. She said: “I was fortunate that my tumour was benign – many people are not so fortunate – and after surgery and despite some serious complications, I made a complete recovery.”

Ms Dowty recently completed a Vodafone World of Difference placement, a scheme which enables volunteers to donate themselves to their chosen charity.

She said of Hammer Out: “I feel so lucky, and Hammer Out is a great charity.

“As my partner says, ‘They do good things for good people when they need it most’ and I want to help make more people aware of their work, to reach more people who need their support and also receive more support themselves to keep growing.”

Ms Distante found out just six weeks before her wedding day in 2006 that she had a fast-growing brain tumour.

Six weeks after her wedding day she underwent surgery in Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital. Although surgery went well, recovery took a long time.

She said: “Three years after surgery I was still suffering from chronic migraines, headaches and daily mental exhaustion, I then underwent testing which confirmed a permanent neurological deficit.

“Essentially the tumour had been removed but had also caused some permanent ‘collateral damage’.”

The symptoms are so severe that she was forced to give up her financial services career to achieve the quiet lifestyle she needs to better manage the mental exhaustion and pain levels that she has to deal with.

She became passionate about photography – particularly landscapes and wildlife – and now regularly provides shots for a regional magazine. In 2010 she was honoured to be chosen as photographer for the 2011 Help for Heroes calendar.

The Hammer Out calendar, which costs £5, can be ordered via the website hammerout.co.uk or by calling 01454 414355.

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