With a rare cancer taking four limbs at just 19, Chris could have slumped over in defeat. He did the opposite. Pushing his way to victory and to love, Chris is an inspiration to all young adults. Chris was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia at a sensitive time of transition.
“Having just completed secondary schooling, I was a fresh adult starting to pave an independent life path.” His diagnosis was rare, and his story quickly became even more unique when he was told that, due to complications, he had to have his legs and hands amputated. “I broke down after I was told they needed to amputate, I got the doctor to draw a stick figure of what I would look like and once I saw it, it hit home that I would forever be different.”
After years of strengthening and immersing himself in post-cancer life, Chris’ scars don’t hold him back. He has been a fierce advocate for Adolescent & Young Adult cancer awareness and care for nine years. His face is well-known among the young adult cancer population of Queensland. He was elected onto the CanTeen board of directors as the National Vice President until 2011, and was a CanTeen ‘You Can’ ambassador in 2012. His positive attitude to life is strong and seemingly unwavering. Chris sees his scars as a badge of strength, character and courage. The experience has given him purpose and drive, resulting in amazing achievements.
In 2010, Chris went searching for a team sport to play, as prior to his amputations he was a keen sportsman. It took him just two years before he was representing Australia at the 2012 Paralympic Games, where he and his team won Gold medals in wheelchair rugby. It was through this triumph, that Chris met Bridie, a Paralympic Silver medallist, who has dealt with body image issues her whole life. She contracted meningococcal as a two year old, which resulted in the loss of both her feet, and scarring on her leg. The two officially met during the welcome home parade in Brisbane following the 2012 Paralympics. They fell in love.
Chris and Bridie live independently as amputees, and push each other to excel in life. Chris’ love for Bridie is why he asked her to be part of Scar Stories with him. “I wanted her to be a part of scar stories to change her perception of her body and embrace the beauty.” There is no doubt that this power couple are bold, brave, and talented. But they wish to show more throughthis image, than their powerful selves. Because they have bared all; scars, heart, and soul, and want others to feel like they can do the same. “I think the image will go a long way for others who hide themselves away for fear of scrutiny.”
“Embrace your scars, and each other”
Photographer Suzanne McCorkell won the Moran Contemporary Photography Prize for 2014 with her image of the two Paralympians, Chris & Bridie.
Suzanne donated $10,000 of her prize money to Scar Stories at a Patients & Survivors event in August 2015.
“Suzanne’s photograph is breathtaking and very deserving of such a prestigious award. With the money she is donating to our charity we can further our creative projects to keep supporting young adults with cancer scars.”