An Ethical Hacking student and fashion model is making an emotional appeal for cancer awareness, as he gets set to graduate from Abertay University this week.
Sam Latronico and his mother Matilda, who is battling ovarian cancer, have recorded a powerful online video in a bid to spotlight the illness.
It features the pair shaving their heads, something they decided to do together after the effects of chemotherapy caused Matilda to start losing her hair.
27-year-old Sam, who will graduate with a degree in Ethical Hacking on Thursday, said the video was difficult to film: “My mum is a hairdresser by trade, and has done well for herself in that industry. I knew the prospect of losing her hair would be difficult for her.
“I decided I would shave my head in solidarity with her, so she wouldn’t go through that process alone.
“We decided to film it to try and raise awareness, so we could turn a very negative situation into a positive, or as much of a positive as it can be.”
Matilda was diagnosed with cancer at the start of this year, after months of health issues relating to an ovarian cyst.
She decided to go to the doctor after suddenly being physically sick following a takeaway.
Sam said they knew something was wrong, but they were not prepared for just how serious the situation was, with Matilda told she would have to undergo gruelling rounds of chemotherapy.
He’s now hoping she will be able to make it to Thursday’s Graduation Ceremony at the Caird Hall in Dundee.
“When we were travelling to that first chemotherapy session she was scared - I remember holding her hand and saying that it would be fine,” Sam said
“We’ve had to remain light-hearted to get through this, and after leaving that first session she looked at me and told me it wasn’t so bad and that chemotherapy would be plain sailing if it was going to be like this, and that her cancer didn’t know what had hit it.
“We’ve had so much support on the back of the video. My mum has had old school friends who she hadn’t heard from in years reach out to her, we’ve even had strangers get in touch.
“It’s made her want to fight more. It’s made her not want to wear wigs, and to wear headscarves and she looks absolutely amazing.”
Matilda wants to use her situation to raise awareness, and to encourage people to be aware of the signs of ovarian cancer.
Symptoms can include a bloated feeling, a swollen stomach and a loss of appetite.
She said: “It’s been important to both Sam and I to turn this situation into as much of a positive as we can. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to go to the doctor.”
“Sam has been taking care of me as I go through chemotherapy, yet he’s still managed to achieve his degree. I’m so proud of him. He’s such an inspiration to me.
“I can’t wait until graduation day, it’ll be so emotional to see him take to the stage. He’s worked so hard and it won’t be a day I’ll ever forget.”