It took me almost two months to find inside myself the right balance and vibe to write about my photo session with Kat. Because I did not want to write yet another blog post, to show yet just some more photos.
I wanted to write from a place within myself that has become clear, positive, balanced, true; from a place where I can speak from truly about Kat.
I have started my project about people who work out in nature, outdoors, alone or with friends, without too much planning, and I was lucky enough to meet extraordinary people. But meeting Kat was special. Because of the way in which she influenced me, not necessarily as a photographer but as a human - and I am a human with my own challenges. She inspired me in so many ways, and only today I am able to say, yes, after two months of getting MYSELF back on track with the consistent training, healthy eating and positive outlook, I can write the blogpost about our meeting.
I met Kat on August 14th at Clifton Country Park - which was a special day for me as it would have been the birthday of my grandmother, Maria, who died earlier this year; I could feel her spirit joining me in this adventure, and inspiring me with her light.
Kat was smiling a lovely smile and I knew instantly she will be a great subject for my photos. But her story became more important to me than my humble photo recordings:
In 2016, Kat began training for what she considered to be at that time the biggest challenge of her life: climbing to the Everest Base Camp:
“This was the first time I had got back into exercise, other than the occasional jog onto a hockey pitch for a few years. Years of working shifts had always gotten in the way of training or committing to sports clubs. In January 2017, I made it to base camp with my wife and a fantastic group of people, I achieved something I had only dreamt about. On days where I found it hard going, I just focused on putting one foot in front of the next and taking things one step at a time.”
But later that year (2017), she was unexpectedly diagnosed with a Grade 2 Oligodendroglioma, a recurring brain tumour. Kat went through brain surgery and one year of radio and chemo therapy.
“I was told I wasn't allowed to lift weights, had become my passion after training for Basecamp and that I had to limit my exercise and to think I thought I had faced my biggest challenge...little did I know.”
“As you can imagine my world turned upside down, I lost all of my independence and was banned from following my passion and exercising, which by this point had become my form of meditation and catharsis. I started to get very low and began showing signs of anxiety and found adapting to my new condition extremely difficult. As such a positive person, this was a huge blow and in spite of my positive outlook, I struggled to know that my tumour had affected every part of my life. I couldn't drive to work, see friends, the long-term effects have left me with cognitive damage which makes it hard to socialise, focus and concentrate for periods of time, I struggled and still do struggle to filter out noise or distractions.”
“At this point, I began looking at all the negatives as against considering what I did have. As such, I put my bike on a turbo trainer and started turning the cogs. Similarly to the trek to basecamp, I focused on turning one leg at a time and dreamed of being out on the road and the freedom that afforded me.”
“Months later, I am now finally back out on my bike and in the gym, I love to exercise and am passionate about inspiring others to don their lycra or joggers and get outside to keep fit. It doesn't have to be riding for miles, or conquering Everest Basecamp, it could simply be walking further than the day before or going out more often. Find something that gets the coals of your soul burning and do more of it.”
“Believe me when I say, if I can, so can you."
We ended our succinct meeting with Kat smiling as she did throughout our session - and with me being grateful for such an unexpectedly great encounter!
**I have been following Kat on her journey via her Instagram and found loads of inspiration: she is now doing Crossfit and is, indeed, a ‘machine’ of strength and good vibes! Thanks again for an incredible time!