Havelock Walk in Forest Hill is where you will find local Lewisham artist Tessa Holmes. Her workshop, eTCH STUDIO 23 sits halfway down this hidden cobbled mews.  Recently, her print “Landscript’ was chosen as a prize winner at the Lovely Gallery as part of the Sydenham Artists Trail “I was thrilled to discover this’ she says ‘at last some light at the end of a very long tunnel’ She as a lot to celebrate this year… 

In the summer of 2010 Tessa was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. After a gruelling five months of chemotherapy, she went into remission but relapsed in 2012.  Her only route to survival was a bone marrow transplant.  ‘Things were pretty bleak’ she recalls. ‘I had to pack up my studio and put my life on hold for the second time in two years.  But I knew this was going to be a much harder challenge. The day I started treatment, I remember thinking, “Will I ever unlock my studio doors again?” 

Tessa underwent a Double Cord Blood Stem Cell Transplant (stem cells from placental blood) at Kings College Hospital in December 2012 – followed by over two years of exhausting treatments and painful procedures “I existed in another universe, one full of medical jargon, hospital wards and outpatient clinics. My world was made up of of blood transfusions, bone marrow biopsies, electrolyte tops ups and a lot of pills.  The Haematology team at Kings were miracle workers though; it was a long haul, but they saved my life.   

This December Tessa will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of her successful transplant. “Now it’s time to give back” she smiles. She has set herself a challenge to raise money for Unit 6, the new Haematology Outpatients Centre being built at the Denmark Hill site.  This new building will be an excellent resource providing essential treatments and services to patients suffering from blood cancers and other blood related disorders including sickle cell anaemia and multiple myeloma.    

“My hope is to raise £10,000 which would be a great achievement – just like my ten years post-transplant has been!  My challenge is called Ten x 10: a series of ten 10-kilometre walks over 10 weeks between October and December. The final walk on Sunday December 11th is the actual anniversary of my transplant. Perfect timing!”   

You can support Tessa’s fundraising campaign by visiting: www.justgiving.com/tessa-holmes10years.   

For a chance to win a copy of her limited-edition print, “The Periodic Table” you can buy raffle tickets at Havelock Walk Winter Weekend Open Studios on December 3rd and 4th. All raffle proceeds will go to the Just Giving fund. 

To read a candid account of her cancer experience go to her blog at http://hairwegoagain-tch23.blogspot.com 

website: tessaholmes.com 

Instagram: @etchstudio23