The Beauty Book for brain cancer was born after I lost one of my best friends to this disease, Natalie Sattler Esposito. After Natalie’s funeral her family asked for donations to go to SNOG (Sydney Neurology Oncology Group) in lieu of flowers. After donating on behalf of my family, SNOG emailed me a thank you letter. I then flew back to the US on the 14-hour flight and I started to think about what could I do to bring awareness and further research for brain cancer and keep Natalie’s memory alive. Using all my connections and friend’s support, I embarked on this wonderful project called THE BEAUTY BOOK for BRAIN CANCER, after more than 2 years of photographing most of the biggest Celebrities in the World – this project is now finished and ready for everyone to enjoy.
I grew up with Natalie and we attended the same high school, we shared many friends Jordan, Alesha, Ginny and we all remained amazing friends through adulthood, I even introduced Natalie to her husband Leonardo Esposito in our early 20’s. Natalie battled with brain cancer for 4 years, she was diagnosed in November of 2004 after having symptoms of headaches, visual disturbances and memory loss. Throughout the four years Natalie completed radiation, chemotherapies and had a tumor surgically removed. She fought hard and sort natural therapies. Natalie lost her battle with brain cancer in September 2008. Natalie was always slim build about 5’4 in height with a stunning big smile and a cheeky laugh that filled the room with joy. Natalie worked in the fashion industry and eventually had her own label called “White Lion”. I shared so many great times with her, a trip to Hong Kong at 19 that was very memorable, getting our high school results, her wedding and many of our birthdays that we always celebrated together with our group of friends. This project, I wouldn’t do for many people but Natalie meant the world to me and her beautiful life deserves to be remembered and what she went through with brain cancer needs to be told.
During the course of this project I’ve been so fortunate to photograph and meet many talented and amazing people, not just the mega star celebrities, but so many creatively gifted hair, makeup and just the down right generous with a big heart. That brings me to my now dear friend “Pantera” Sarah Uphoff, we met through Mehcad Brooks after I photographed him for The Beauty Book, he said “ you need to meet Pantera”, I replied, “Yes”. Pantera and I met in Hollywood for a coffee and the rest is history, a few days later I was photographing Fergie and Josh Duhamel at their home. Pantera wanted to get involved with The Beauty Book as her mom Louise Uphoff was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2010 after her family noticed a change in her personality; her Mom had lost all her excitement and was very “blah” about most day-to-day situations that usually she loved. Louise had surgery in January 2010 to remove 90% of the tumor that sat in her frontal lobe on both sides that was followed with chemotherapy and radiation. Pantera was frustrated with constantly hearing from doctors the “I don’t knows”, so we came together for one common goal – to raise money for research. Louise loved to knit and was into politics, she was the accountant for Teachers Union and her family is so grateful as that union fully covered Louise’s medical expenses. Louise was very proud of her family and was at the Martin Luther King speech in 1963 that she often talked about. Louise lost her battle with brain cancer in July 2011.
Brain Cancer now has a voice called THE BEAUTY BOOK and raising money for research is so vital. There are still so many unknowns with this disease and the battle is often intensely hard and intrusive. Brain Cancer doesn’t discriminate age, race or gender – it attacks all. Together we can and will make a difference.