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Breast Cancer Now uses AI photos to convey hope

Howard Lake | 13 March 2024 | News

Louise Hudson - two photos in the Breast Cancer Now Gallery of Hope exhibition
Louise Hudson in the Gallery of Hope. Photos: Breast Cancer Now, Jillian Edelstein

Breast Cancer Now is using AI-enhanced images in a photo exhibition to raise awareness of incurable secondary breast cancer and the need to fund more research.

The Gallery of Hope combines photographs taken by Jillian Edelstein of 10 people living with secondary breast cancer, with images enhanced by artificial intelligence to create snapshots of future moments they hope to see.

By highlighting the hopes of 10 people and their families, the images show what could be possible for them and people like them, if enough funding for research is forthcoming.

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The exhibition opened today at Saatchi Gallery in London.

The photos offer various reasons to hope – to attend certain family events, to mark milestones, to get married, or simply to live a long life and toast the results of successful researchers in a few decades. All of these reasons require more research by Breast Cancer Now into secondary breast cancer, which could lead to more treatment options to help people extend their lives.

There are currently an estimated 61,000 people living with secondary breast cancer in the UK. To date Breast Cancer Now has invested around £284 million in breast cancer research.

Louise Hudson, photo from Gallery of Hope
Louise Hudson in the Gallery of Hope. Photo: Breast Cancer Now, Jillian Edelstein

Louise’s story

Louise lives in London with her husband Barry, whom she married in 1994. She has spent her whole life around performance arts. Her journey began at the Chelsea ballet school, founded by her mother in the late 60s. As well as being a keen and accomplished ballet dancer, Louise has played various roles in the theatrical realm both on and off stage.

Beyond the West End, she toured pantomimes to children across the UK who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to live performances. Not only that, but she has also been involved in a number of charitable causes, helping to raise money for the Great Ormond Street Hospital, Brinsworth House and many different cancer charities.

In 2022, Louise was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, which also coincided with two broken bones after a fall on stage. Though the broken bones have healed, her cancer treatment is, of course, ongoing and she has undergone some very rough chemotherapy sessions along with other treatments, all in the hope of one day getting her back on stage.

Using AI to show the difference a charity might achieve

The AI-generated works in the gallery are based on original portraits taken by Jillian Edelstein, who has over 100 works in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection.

By training AI models specifically on images shot by Edelstein, the team have generated unique and imagined images that retain Jillian’s style as well as crucial details such as poses, facial expressions and likeness in future images which could have been captured by Jillian herself.

Visitors to the exhibition can scan a QR code next to portraits to learn more about the individual’s personal experiences and what their depicted future moment of hope means to them.

David McCallion and Katie Enell's portraits and hopes in the Gallery of Hope
David McCallion and Katie Enell in the Gallery of Hope. Photo: Breast Cancer Now

Simon Vincent, Director of Research, Support and Influencer at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“For people living with secondary breast cancer, the prospect of missing future precious moments is agonising. The ‘Gallery of Hope’ shines a much-needed spotlight on the realities of living with secondary breast cancer, through people sharing their own experiences and future moments they hope to see.”

Mel Khaled and Claire Myerson's portraits in the Gallery of Hope by Breast Cancer Care
Mel Khaled and Claire Myerson’s portraits in the Gallery of Hope. Image: Breast Cancer Care

He added:

“We’re incredibly grateful to the 10 men and women who we have worked in collaboration with us, helping us shine a light on secondary breast cancer and the urgent need for more research, informing every stage of development of this moving exhibition – we simply couldn’t have done this without them. If anyone has been affected by the ‘Gallery of Hope’ and would like to speak to someone, our expert nurses are ready to talk to you via our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”

The Gallery of Hope exhibition is open today and tomorrow (13-14 March).

Four photos of people attending the launch of the Gallery of Hope in London, with the photo portraits behind them.
Launch of the Gallery of Hope. Photo: Breast Cancer Now

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