Northern Essex Student Battling Breast Cancer Launches ‘Photo for a Cause’ Fundraiser

Methuen’s Priscilla Westaway is making her mess her message. Diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, the 50-year-old has undergone 20 months of chemotherapy treatments while keeping her fellow Merrimack Valley patients top of mind.

A photography student at Northern Essex Community College, Westaway has launched the Photo for a Cause fundraiser, curating 100 color and black and white photos for a gala and silent auction to be held on Oct. 20 and 21. For the exhibit, Westaway solicited submissions from her student peers, NECC faculty and community members, with a jury narrowing the field from 4,000 to the final 100.

Currently receiving treatment at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody, Westaway has chosen to donate all Photo for a Cause funds to the North Shore clinic, stipulating that all monies must be earmarked for local patients.

“I’m being very specific in my earmarking that it’s for patients in the Merrimack Valley and North Shore and how the money is to be spent: bill pay, groceries, transportation,” she told WHAV. “Some people cancel their chemo treatments because they have no way to get there, or they don’t have gas money. [Basic] necessities that we all take for granted.”

Westaway has appointed her oncologist, Dr. Corrine Zarwan, to distribute the funds to local Lahey patients and will set aside one-quarter of the money donated for Dr. Zarwan to use at her discretion.

“In hearing these stories, you kind of say, ‘I am very fortunate and blessed. My family takes great care of me.’ My job is to continue staying focused and staying as healthy as I can be,’" she told WHAV. "I’m very well cared for, so I want to make sure other people are cared for.”

In advance of Westway’s fundraiser, select Photo for a Cause works are on display in locations including Haverhill’s A Sweet Affair and The Artist Café, Methuen City Hall and at Lahey’s Peabody and Burlington clinics. The complete collection will be on display at NECC’s Hartleb Technology Center (100 Elliott St., Haverhill) on Oct. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Oct. 21 from 6 to 10 p.m.

For more on Photo for a Cause or to donate, visit PhotoForACause.org.