Inspirational Harlow woman lauded as a wonder woman

Lifestyle / Tue 5th Sep 2017 at 12:32pm

Wonder 2

MODERN day wonder women are being celebrated and held up as alternative role models for young girls.

Annette Lewis

Photographer Chanon deValois became saddened at the adoration her 15-year-old stepdaughter and friends felt for celebrities, popstars and YouTube personalities.

On a mission to demonstrate more real-life heroes, she teamed up with hair and make-up artist Michelle Lacey, of Bumblebee Bridal, to launch the Warrior Women Series.

Celebrating women who are tackling and overcoming adversity to lead successful lives is the aim of the project, with “warriors” given a pampering and makeover before a professional photo shoot.

Chanon, whose studio is based in Chelmsford, said: “Young people seem fascinated by the amount of money celebrities are making by doing things like talking nonsense on YouTube. I find it so sad that these are the people they are looking up to when all around them are truly amazing people, the real idols, achieving so much in their lives.

“We wanted to tell these warrior women’s stories in the hope of making young people stop and reconsider who they look up to and admire in life. We want them to realise there are people all around who are inspiring and it’s not all about looking on the internet at people who are rich and famous. It’s about realising what real people go through and how amazing they can be.”

Among the first women to feature in the project are Annie Lewis, who has battled breast cancer while building a family; Sue Britton, who has travelled the world despite being born with cystic fibrosis; Lacey Bannister, who has overcome her crippling agoraphobia to become the bride of her dreams; and Heidi Cresswell, whose young life was thrown into turmoil last year with an unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Chanon said: “Aside from holding these ladies up as true heroes, the project is enabling them to see themselves in a new light by having these portraits done. By telling their stories, they have also realised what they have achieved and that makes them feel rightly proud.

“It is about sharing these stories to empower and give hope, but also to make them feel better about themselves and their lives.”
If you know a Warrior Woman whose story is an inspiration, contact Chanon deValois on [email protected] to nominate them to take part in the project.

Warrior Woman – Annie Lewis, 42, Harlow
Super power – juggling family while overcoming breast cancer

While watching a This Morning feature on how to check your breasts, Annie Lewis was forced to confront the fact she’d recently discovered a lump.

Having tried to put the finding out of her mind, Annie decided it was time to face the truth and saw her doctor.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer and within weeks had an operation to remove the lump and started chemotherapy before radiotherapy.

A mum-of-three, Annie’s dream was to complete her family by marrying her partner Gareth. When This Morning heard her story, they picked the couple to be the first to marry live on the programme, in April 2016.

She said: “Even though I was going through so much sadness with the illness, the thing that made me cry even more was thinking I would never get to marry my soul mate. Gareth and the children were my rocks throughout it all and the wedding finally cemented us together.”

Having lost all of her hair during treatment, Annie still finds it difficult to feel happy with how she looks, even though her hair has now returned.
She has also had to have a hysterectomy to rid her body of more cancerous cells and has been left with fibromyalgia which means she is in constant pain.

The Warrior Woman project came as a welcome boost.

She said: “What Chanon and Michelle are doing is amazing. Since being ill, I have lost all confidence and when I look in the mirror I feel as though I don’t see me anymore, I just see cancer and a lady who is suffering the every day side effects of it. Being involved in this project made me feel like a new me. I could forget what has happened and is still happening outside of those four walls.”

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