The Children’s Tumour Foundation (CTF) has teamed up with international fashion photographer and industry veteran Scott Ehler, to develop a striking campaign that aims to shine a light on a lifelong, genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis (NF).
Progressive and unpredictable, NF causes tumours to form on nerves in the body, including the brain and spine. In anticipation of NF Awareness Month this May, CTF is spearheading a campaign to help bring NF out of the shadows.
Fashion guru Scott Ehler, an invaluable asset to the project, brings over 20 years of industry experience and an impressive repertoire to the campaign. In collaboration with CTF, Ehler has produced a series of poignant images that depict 11 young Aussies living with NF.
Ehler’s work has been featured in high-end fashion magazines, including VOGUE and Harper’s Bazaar, and he has shot with an extensive list of celebrity clientele such as Prince Harry, Katy Perry, Harrison Ford, Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz.
NF can cause cancer, blindness, deafness, as well as physical differences, learning difficulties and chronic pain. One in every 2,500 Aussies are born with the disorder and there is no known cure. However, despite being the most common neurological condition, NF is a condition that few people have ever heard of.
One of the individuals Scott photographed, a woman called Janu Dhayanathan, left a profound impact on him.
“I am so glad I got to work with her; to see how far she has come and how amazing she is. We should never have to feel like we need to hide or stop being our true authentic self.”
Dhayanathan grew up in Sydney’s Tamil community and was made to keep her NF diagnosis a secret for close to 30 years.
“All my life, I had been told to hide who I was and what I was living with. Stepping out of the shadows has been an empowering experience. I am finally in control of my life and have learnt to love me for me. I just hope I can help others living with NF to do the same,” said Janu Dhayanathan, NF Ambassador for the CTF in Australia.
She decided to reveal her diagnosis publicly at age 37 and became an NF Ambassador for CTF. Dhayanathan has used this platform to talk openly about her experience of finally stepping out of the shadows and embracing who she is. Her story has since reverberated globally with comments and requests to speak coming from near and far.
Ehler experimented with shadows and lighting to reflect the ethos of the out of the shadows campaign, showering the individuals in blue and green light.
“I did not hesitate to lend my time and skills to support this campaign and was rewarded with some incredible stories of resilience and strength in the face of unbelievable adversity,” he explained.
With $8 million in federal funding recently announced to support research into NF and the CTF, 2021 is shaping up to be a significant year for those living with NF in Australia. Awareness initiatives will run for the entire month of May but will culminate on World NF Awareness Day on May 17, when Australia will light up blue and green.
Many prominent buildings and landmarks around the country will be taking part, including Sydney’s Luna Park Ferris Wheel, Old Parliament House in Canberra and Melbourne Town Hall.
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