A NORTHSIDE woman revealed how she lived through the pain of cancer, lupus, scoliosis and osteoporosis only to become a style icon in her seventies.
Amelia O’Driscoll from The Glen underwent a mastectomy four years ago after a breast cancer diagnosis.
An intense course of chemotherapy followed and resulted in the 73-year-old losing her hair.
Amelia still suffers with overwhelming pain stemming from numerous health complications.
Nonetheless, she insists that with a pair of heels and slick of red lipstick you can take on the world.
In recent months, her unique style captured the eye of the Phase Eight team — a London-based fashion business — on Patrick Street who approached her to model for their social media platforms.
Her face is also set to feature in advertisements for the Cork Hair Clinic on Oliver Plunkett Street.
“Amelia, who only took up modelling in her seventies, hopes she can serve as a beacon of hope for those who have lost their confidence to illness.
“I hide a lot of my pain,” she said.
“Chemo destroyed my joints. My bones are like rocks now.”
However, she refuses to let pain get in the way of her positive attitude. “A lot of people tend not to talk when they are in a bad place but I’m the complete opposite.
“When I was in hospital and someone felt down, I’d start singing a song to cheer them up. That’s just the kind of person I am.
“I could cry for anyone, but I’ve never been able to cry for myself. When I think of kids suffering who are too young to even describe the pain they’re going through, that’s when I get upset.”
Amelia’s first instinct in a crisis is to reach for the lipstick.
“The first thing I said to the nurse after waking up after the operation was ‘I want to put on my make-up’. Despite being on a drip I still wanted to put it on myself. All they could say was ‘fair play to you’.”
There was a tough road ahead for Amelia.
“I was really nervous about having chemotherapy at the time and asked if there was a tablet I could take instead.
“My biggest fear was losing my hair but I was told there was no other way. Losing my hair was difficult. Seeing other people with hair was a reminder of what I had lost.
“I have never been a person to wear hats so thank goodness for wigs. I went to Kay O’Sullivan in the Cork Hair Clinic for mine and she was very kind to me.
“The effects of the chemo were also tough to deal with. There were days when I thought my chest was going to burst open in pain.”
Amelia has come a long way from her days as a self-conscious teenager.
“When I was young and sunbathing in Salthill I’d run away if I caught sight of a guy. I was so self-conscious back then I didn’t want anyone seeing me in my swimming togs. Now, I have a lot more confidence in myself. I love dressing up. It’s what keeps me going.”
She acknowledged those who helped her along the way. “I’d like to thank Dr Seamus O’Reilly and the oncology team at the South Infirmary and my surgeon Deirdre O’Hanlon and her team at Cork University Hospital. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive today.”
She also paid tribute to her friends and family adding:
“My husband Dennis has been wonderful. We have been married for 50 years and I feel so lucky to have him in my life.
“My daughter Rachel was so good to me all the way through my illness, not to mention my neighbours. I have so many people to be grateful for.”