Family picture tells a bigger story

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CANBERRA mums and daughters have the opportunity to get a special moment captured on camera by a professional photographer while helping out a worthwhile cause in July as part of National Family Portrait Month.

Kellie Opitz with her daughters Demi and Anna... “I have always been vigilant with getting a pap smear. But when we were relocating to Canberra it put me out of whack,” Opitz says. Photo by Thanasi Bakatsoulas
Kellie Opitz with her daughters Demi and Anna… “I have always been vigilant with getting a pap smear. But when we were relocating to Canberra it put me out of whack,” Opitz says. Photo by Thanasi Bakatsoulas

Local photographer Thanasi Bakatsoulas will be donating his time to take portraits of mums and daughters throughout July to help raise $10,000 for the Women’s Cancer Foundation – which funds ovarian cancer research.

Bakatsoulas chose a portrait he took of a mum and her twin daughters last year to help promote the endeavour. However, he soon learned there was a bigger story behind the photo.

The mum in the photo is Kellie Opitz, a cervical cancer survivor, who last year relocated to Canberra to take up an HR position at the ANU. It was not long after the photo was taken that she was again diagnosed with the cancer.

“I have a history of women’s cancer in my family and when I was 19 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer,” Opitz says.

“I have always been vigilant every year with getting a pap smear. But when we were relocating to Canberra it put me out of whack – I didn’t have a GP – so when I finally went along and asked them to check me out, the result came back positive.

“It’s stage CIN3 – the stage before it seems to get really nasty.”

Opitz has been treated with surgery and is still awaiting the results of further tests to find out whether the cancer has spread. She is also currently looking into further preventative treatments and surgery.

“My mother passed away from cancer two years ago,” she said. “My mother’s mother died of ovarian cancer, my sister has issues with polycystic ovaries and my aunty on my mother’s side passed away from breast cancer.”

Bakatsoulas, who has been taking family portraits in Canberra for about eight years, said: “You never know what people are going through.”

“I wanted to take part in this because it’s a good cause, to meet more people and do what I love doing… It’s quite close to my heart.”

Opitz and her daughters have returned to Darwin to be closer to her husband, who was planning to join his family in Canberra.

“Supporting a cause like this, to me, is more about raising awareness,” Opitz said.

“Women always have it in the back of their mind, but you need to do these checks for yourself.

“It’s about raising awareness and getting it to the front of your mind.”

Those who take part in National Family Portrait month will take part in a professional portrait session, as well as be featured in a book called “Mothers & Daughters… A Loving Bond”.

It costs $51 to take part – with that money going towards the Women’s Cancer Foundation.

To take part, visit familyportraitmonth.com.au

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