Staying positive - cancer survivor’s inspirational double photo shoot

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When Emma Kirke was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she had already prepared for the worst.

Despite her nerves about how the major surgery would affect her body, the 38-year-old nutritionist from Ossett did not want to take any chances and decided she would have a double mastectomy.

In the run up to the operation in February this year, Dr Kirke spent time researching mastectomies but said she “could not find anything that showed positivity and femininity”.

So, just nine and ten weeks after the surgery, Dr Kirke decided to show women that there was a positive outlook post-operation by taking part in two brave photoshoots.

She said: “I was worried that when they took the bandages off I would have a freak out because I wouldn’t look normal.

“But because I had tried to mentally prepare myself, I didn’t look in the mirror and think wow they look odd.

“When I had Googled mastectomies beforehand I couldn’t find anything anywhere that looked positive and that reassured me I would look like a normal person.

“I thought ‘I need to do something about it’ so I came up with the idea of doing the photoshoots, one feminine and pretty and one focused on fitness and strength, to show women the positive side.

“It also helped me personally because I looked at the photos and thought ‘these look quite nice’. It gave me confidence.”

Dr Kirke decided to be tested for breast cancer as her grandmother was 
battling the disease, which 
had also claimed the lives of her great aunt and great gran.

On arrival at a Chapel Allerton genetic testing clinic, doctors told her she had one of the highest risks of developing the disease based on her family history. And a scan revealed she already had five small tumours in her right breast.

She said: “I had already gone in with a game plan of what I would do if I had the cancer and told my husband Tony I would have the mastectomy. I couldn’t bare the idea of waking up every day thinking the cancer might have grown back.”

Dr Kirke, who was temporarily partly paralysed in a car crash in 2000 after injuring her spine, returned back to work just three weeks after the operation.

As a clinical nutritional therapist, she believes it was her diet and fitness that got her quickly back to health.

Dr Kirke set up her business Medicinal Kitchen, based at TOPS Rehabilitation 
and Fitness, on Leeds Road, following her car accident 
after learning to walk and weening herself off her 
medication through food and exercise.

She will undergo the final procedure to fully reconstruct her breasts next week.

l Photos courtesy of Paul Crook Photography.