What have the following stars got in common?
Johnny Depp, Jennifer Aniston, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Lady Gaga, Richard E Grant, Jude Law, and Leonardo DiCaprio?
The answer is that Sarah Mendoza has painted pictures of them all, and with the help of her young daughter the pair of them got the stars to autograph their own paintings at red carpet events.
How has this happened? And why it is being done?
Sarah Mendoza is the mother of two daughters on a mission: To paint cancer out like never before. In August 2009, Sarah was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, she was thirty-nine years of age. In July 2012 she was diagnosed with a recurrence of stage three cancer; she is also a type-2 diabetic.
Three years ago after her youngest daughter Sophia said “Mummy I hope I don’t get breast cancer!” the two of them went looking for a diversion from the cancer bubble. Sarah found a hobby for her young daughter that meant she could occasionally walk red carpets with the stars and collect their autographs to serve as a distraction.
In March 2013, after a stage three recurrence diagnosis, Sarah picked up the paint brush, and for the first time used oil paints. It seemed an excellent idea for both of their hobbies to merge creating ‘Paint C Out!’ This in turn would raise awareness and funds in creating a family drop in centre providing friendship, understanding, education and support for children and young people who have a parent with cancer or have lost a parent to cancer.
Sarah’s ambition is to see the paintings displayed with the journey of painting cancer out. She would also like to raise awareness of the project by painting in a shop front window in Oxford Street, one of London’s busiest shopping and tourist areas for thirty days, setting up two easels, painting, and fingers crossed the stars will again sign their portraits. But for now settling for Leicester Square and its glitter, red carpets and camera flashes, will suffice.
It may seem like a crazy idea but Sarah is a stubborn Yorkshire lass who strongly believes that good things come to those who put in the graft. Since 2010 she has been following the stars at red carpet events through wind, rain and shine with her young daughter. It did not matter whether she had a biopsy, mastectomy, reconstruction surgery or most recently, after a recurrence of stage three breast cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and infusions of the Herceptin drug every three weeks. She wanted her daughter to have a heap of memories she could share with her friends, without cancer being mentioned.
Sarah is an individual who has worked with children as a volunteer youth worker for over twenty years and can see a serious hole that needs filling.
“Creating a buddy system where children can talk freely amongst themselves is something that is lacking in the health system, especially with daughters watching mum’s go through breast cancer treatment with its physical and emotional scars.”
Since Sarah’s diagnosis, her daughter has had no one she could connect with, until recently, when another child feeling the same isolation befriended her.
“By creating a buddy system where children/young people can talk freely we hope to make the cancer journey a not-so-lonely experience for children/young people.”
Sarah is being helped along the way by Doug Harper who has also had breast cancer and is also a type-2 diabetic.
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Sarah and Doug also write blogs about their experiences and raising awareness.
Sarah’s is: The Breast Cancer Lottery
Doug’s is: One of 300 Men