Annmarie Bowen, from Caerphilly, South Wales, was only 21 when she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. The brave hairdresser experienced complete hair loss as a result of chemotherapy treatment, as well as leaving her exhausted and self-conscious about her looks.
150 pictures taken over a year
As a means of helping her cope with this mental and physical stress, Annmarie began making a time-lapse film charting the growth of her hair after the end of her chemotherapy treatment. The result is a moving video diary which contains 150 pictures taken every couple of days for almost a year.
Over two minutes, we see the young woman going from completely bald to having a full head of brown curls. The video provides an intimate glimpse into the day-the-day struggles of a young cancer survivor. It also sheds light on the rarity which is breast cancer in very young women.
Breast cancer under age 25 extremely rare
Doctors were initially shocked to discover that Annmarie was diagnosed with breast cancer due to her age. Grete Brauten-Smith, a clinical nurse specialist for younger women at Breast Cancer Care said: “Annmarie is one of around only 31 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 20 and 24 per year in the UK. Often younger women who are diagnosed feel very isolated.”
The lack of knowledge surrounding young women diagnosed with breast was a driving force behind Annmarie’s desire to undertake her hair regrowth video diary. Annmarie, now 24, explains: “I wanted other young women to know that breast cancer doesn’t just happen to mums and nans.
Sharing my story has helped me to come to terms with what I’ve been through. It’s hard for me to look back and remember how tired and ill I felt but if I can help others with my experience then that can only be a good thing.”
Last year, Annmarie finally received some good news, with doctors giving her the all-clear. Though she is eager to eventually return to her job as a hairdresser, she is focusing for the time being on regaining her strength and sharing her experience to help others.