I have had the enormous pleasure of knowing Madeline Elliott since I was 7. Growing up I knew her as lil’ Mad, an amazing dancer, a kind and loving soul, and a girl with a hilarious personality. Nothing has changed. Except now she is stronger.
Last February Maddy was told three words that no one wants to hear. ‘You have cancer.’
She went through 6 gruelling months of chemotherapy to treat her Hodgkins Lymphoma. Six months that would have felt like years to her.
What went through your mind when the Doctor explained to you that you had Cancer?
Maddy: It didn’t come as a complete shock as while I was having endless tests the nurses somewhat prepared me for the worst. I cried more of happiness because I finally knew what I was dealing with and knew that I could finally start the process of getting better. My fighting spirit kicked in! I just thought “right, now I know what’s been making me so sick the past few months it’s time to kick it to the curb.”
Seeing Maddy go through this was truly heartbreaking, although, I have never been so inspired at the same time. After having her health, beautiful long hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and energy taken away from her, she still managed to maintain her happy, positive and beautiful personality.
What was the hardest part of your journey with Cancer?
Maddy: The hardest part was undoubtedly watching how my pain and suffering was affecting those closest around me. Watching my family and boyfriend feel helpless as I cried and slowly grew sicker from the chemo side effects was the hardest part. At first losing my hair didn’t seem like a big deal, I was more focused on fighting the cancer and for my life. But when it started to fall out, that was hard. Watching the chemo take away my beautiful long hair and in some ways my identity was not fun.
I remember walking into the Chemotherapy Ward to sit with Maddy, and there she was with this beaming smile on her face. I was thinking, how can she seriously be smiling right now? She was hooked up to all these machines that were pumping chemicals through her.
Chemicals that she knew would hit her in an hour or two and make her feel as horrible as ever, and at this stage she knew she had such a long hard road ahead of her.
I saw you put on a brave face, but behind that, how did you really feel?
Maddy: I felt as though I had to put on a brave face for everyone else. If I was happy and positive, those around me would be too. I felt like if I put on a brave face and convinced my family, boyfriend and friends I was feeling confident and positive, then I would actually feel confident and positive myself. Behind closed doors at home though it was not so much the case. My family and boyfriend saw the real pain I was going through and witnessed my daily meltdowns.
Well, that’s how she got through it. During the time Maddy was sick, she was posting motivational quotes. One that really stuck with me was, ‘count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms.’ It was so evident that this was Maddy’s mindset as she was going through her journey with cancer. Counting all the good things in her life. And look where that got her! Maddy has now been all clear from cancer for 6 months and from my eyes she is more beautiful and stronger than ever! I am so proud of her and I know so many other people are too, especially her family and boyfriend.
What do you think helped you get through this?
Maddy: I think my faith, family, boyfriend and close friends got me through. My home really became my place of healing. My mum, dad, brother and boyfriend saw and accepted me when I was so raw and depleted, and always dragged me out of the house even it were for five minutes of fresh air. The nurses on the chemo ward were such amazing people, all so humorous. I also read a book called “shattering the cancer myth” by a naturopath who healed her own self of cancer. When I had a consultation with her I completely changed my way of eating and mindset. I still credit my positive thinking mantras and cancer-fighting diet as the reason I have bounced back to health so quickly.
Let this be a lesson to you. It was for me. It is so easy to fall under the trap of, ‘I hate my body,’ or ‘my hair is so thin,’ or ‘I have the flu and I missed out on a party, my life is over.’ Instead, be thankful for how healthy, beautiful and lucky you are. Or think of people like Maddy who really didn’t have good health for a while, who had no hair at all, and who missed out on so many events in her life.
What have you learnt about yourself after kicking cancer’s butt?!
Maddy: I have learnt that I am more capable and strong than I had originally thought that’s for sure. If someone had of told me before my diagnosis that I would get cancer and lose all my hair I would have assumed that would be the end of me. I learnt I had a really quite sick sense of humour too (pun not intended). Paying out myself and using my cancer as something to make jokes out of helped me see the lighter side of things.
Well, I thought it was about time to get Maddy feeling really amazing again. I am so thankful and excited to have had the help of an incredible group of creative people who teamed together to capture Maddy’s newfound health. Thank you to the talented Elizabeth Grinter who took these amazing photos of Maddy, a big thank you to Mia Connor who did her stunning makeup and the amazing Lisa Brown for providing the gorgeous dresses!
I hope Maddy’s story can inspire you like it did me! Maddy is now happy, free, and healthy and I think these photos reflect just that!