Personal cancer journey inspires OF to launch creative magazine for people living with cancer as well as those ‘locked up’ due to Covid-19 restrictions - Framlingham College

Two former Framlingham College pupils have recently launched the first edition of a new specialist print publication. Get A Life magazine aims to provide creative and relatable material to people who have been diagnosed with cancer. The publication is also aimed at people who have suffered with coronavirus, either through the illness itself or the impact of confinement on their mental health. The publication came about after OF, Cressi Sowerbutts, was treated for leukaemia a few years ago and found there was an absence of engaging reading materials, which represented her situation, when she was undergoing treatment.

Cressi, from the seaside village of Walberswick, went to Framlingham College Prep and Senior schools before graduating with A-levels in photography, theatre studies and English literature. Following her time at Framlingham she accepted a place at Falmouth University, to study fashion photography. But problems began to arise midway through her studies. She said: “In my second year at Falmouth, I started getting very sick. But it took a year for me to get diagnosed. I was eventually diagnosed with a form of acute myeloid leukaemia. Although I was glad to know I wasn’t mad and to finally have a diagnosis, it came as a massive shock. It was all a bit of a blur really.”

Cressi was in her third year at Falmouth when she had to drop out to undergo treatment for the illness, as an inpatient at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey. It was there she met Ameera, and together they began to discuss ways in which people receiving cancer treatment could feel less segregated from society and more “normal.” Cressi said: “I met Ameera at the Marsden and we discussed the amount of depressing booklets you get given. The booklets were good for information, but they are mind-numbing. And then you get given other magazines but there’s nothing about illness in them at all. So, this magazine, I hope, fuses the gap between creative material and medical information. It’s got how-to guides and hospital packing lists plus masses of topical, artistic work.”

Cressi’s treatment was successful and finished two years ago. She added: “It takes a long time to recover from chemo. But I’m finally beginning to feel more like myself again.

Recently launched through social media, the high-quality print publication, Get A Life, features artworks from people living in confinement due to coronavirus restrictions as well as individual stories from people who have undergone cancer treatment. It also has useful guides for friends of people living with cancer such as the fantastically matter-of-fact ‘What the F**k do I say?’ feature, which offers a helpful guide on phrases to avoid when talking to someone undergoing cancer treatment.

Cressi Sowerbutts (left) and Georgie Gifford-Clarke (right) with the printed magazine.

The magazine cover features the synopsis: ‘Featuring artwork, photography and words from over 50 young creatives and patients ‘locked up’ across the globe.’

Cressi added: “The launch has gone so well; it’s been quite all-consuming really. I decided to create the publication when the first lockdown kicked in and I had to move back home to shield. I asked Georgie to help with the design aspects and thankfully she agreed. I’m so happy she did. She’s an InDesign whizz and has done a fantastic job.”

Georgie Clarke-Gifford and Cressi have been friends since childhood and both attended Framlingham College from a young age. The pair remain close friends and became creative colleagues for this venture.

Cressi added: “We’ve done lots of social media promotions and got musicians to record things for us prior to the launch. We received funding from ArtCry (a charity fund to encourage artists to create works which react to social and political events) for all of the 1,050 free copies, which are currently being distributed amongst Teenage Cancer Trust hospital units, universities, organisations and many more.

Issue one is available for free digital download and in limited edition sold print, with 50% of the proceeds going to Teenage Cancer Trust and NHS Charities Together. I honestly didn’t think we’d sell any copies but we’ve already sold half which is amazing!

“I funded the limited edition copies myself and I’m delighted that we’ve already sold more than half of them. We’ve had so much positive feedback from cancer patients, which is the main thing. I think people like to see a mixture of things, which is also creative. That’s what we are trying to do.”

The overwhelmingly positive response to the magazine launch has led Cressi to consider continuing the publication. She said: “We focussed on just this one-off issue, looking at cancer and coronavirus, but I’m tempted to do other issues looking at other illnesses.”

Following her treatment, she transferred to Norwich University of the Arts to complete her studies in BA (Hons) Fashion Communication & Promotion. She is now in her final year and continues to build her network of creative professionals which will no doubt help her with future projects.

You can find out more about Get A Life and order copies via the publication website here – www.getalifemag.com

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