INTERIOR DESIGN + DECORATING + STYLE BY VIVIAN PANAGOS

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Friday, March 1, 2013

My friend Emily

I'm back in town. It is with a heavy heart that I write this post.

While I was away my close friend passed away.

Emily Sephton was a friend of mine for years. She was wife to Anthony and mother to two beautiful boys - Jesse who is 3 years old and Archer who is 4 months old. She meant the world to so many people and we love and miss her so much.


I'm inspired daily by the things I see but most of all I'm inspired by the people I meet. Emily is one of those people and she inspired me in more ways than I can properly explain. She opened my eyes and she helped me to see the beauty in the every day through her photography.

If her name sounds familiar to you it may be because you have seen the creative spaces she photographed for ish and chi - the studios of Australian fashion label Strummer, textile designers Shibori and of artist Brad Robson. I'm honoured to have featured her photography here. We wanted to shoot more.

Cancer took Emily away from this world. The lives of many people haven't been the same since.

She was first diagnosed with brain cancer 3 years ago soon after her son Jesse was born. She underwent radiotherapy and we all thought she had beaten it. Our friendship strengthened and our sons became friends. We talked about life, our families, our fears. We talked about death.

Young people aren't supposed to think about death.

Emily wrote on her blog:

Before I was diagnosed, death or dying really wasn't on my radar. I mean it had crossed my mind, it was never really something I thought I had to deal with any time soon. I had time, lots of time. I'm only young. Being diagnosed with cancer gave me a new perspective on life, I'm lucky in a way to get that slap in the face.

When she found out she was pregnant with her second child she was happy but also worried about the risk of the cancer returning. She wanted to give Jesse a sibling. We celebrated her pregnancy. It had to be different this time. It couldn't happen twice!

"There are no guarantees in life. Noone is owed a long happy and healthy existence."

I wish life was fair.

Her cancer returned and she fought again and fought hard. She comforted others and put their needs before hers. She never saw herself as a victim. She had amazing strength.
I worried about going away on this trip and I wrote to Emily about my anxiety of being so far from friends and family. What I wanted to say was that I was worried about being far from her in case she needed a friend nearby.

She reassured me and said "You'll have the two most important people with you!" and told me to take a million photos and to feel free to spam Facebook with them.

Internet access wasn't easy to find while I was away. When I got online at the hotel I received a message that she was in hospital and not long afterwards I received the devastating news she had passed. I didn't know what had happened. I saw words on my phone... funeral... lost her battle... and I screamed down the walls of that hotel room.

Four months after her second son was born, on 13 February 2013, cancer took her away and gone was a wonderful person and mother and one of the kindest, loving and bravest of people I have ever had the privilege of calling a friend.

I wanted to come home but I remembered what she had told me - to take a million photos. Please, she said. So I stayed and I photographed and I kept photographing until I filled up the memory card. Over 2000 photographs were taken in her honour.

Over the next few days, I would like to share a small collection of them with you here along with the things I saw from this trip.

Emily taught many of us so much about life. She also shared the things she learnt from cancer:

"You have true friends where you didn't realise.
Bad things happen to good people.
Life is fleeting.
Life is full of beauty. Take notice.
Trust your gut. My GP had told me I was 'lucky' that my migraines were only visual and didn't cause me pain (I'm sure my file was stamped 'hypochondriac').
People with cancer are not 'victims'.
At the end of the day, family and friends are all you have.
Life is worth living."

I'll miss her forever.

All photographs included in this post are copyright of Emily Sephton. Thank you to Anthony for the permission to share with you.


In Emily's honour, every word and photo I share from the trip is dedicated to her and her family. If you would like to make a donation to help cancer patients and cancer research, the family's chosen charity is the Cancer Council of Australia. My wish is for a world where cancer no longer takes family and friends away.



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