PT Hirschfield is an Australian diver, oceanographer, award-winning underwater photographer and columnist for Divelog Australasia Magazine.
The link below ( YouTube ) allows you to listen to her most recent interview “A Real Live Mermaid, Living to Dive Another Day.”
Here is a link to her website where you’ll be able to see incredible photos and read her observations from her underwater adventures.
She is a qualified Master Diver, with specialist training in Underwater Photography, Wreck Diving, Nitrox and Rescue. PT also has a certification in Underwater Navigation, but says that following her underwater would be a huge mistake!
In 2010 PT was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and in 2014 was told it was incurable.
“I was first diagnosed with endometrial cancer six years ago but two years ago, after lots of surgeries, they told me that I was considered terminal and I had palliative radiation and that it was time for me to give up work and do what made me happiest and to tick everything off my bucket list,” Ms Hirschfield said.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life at that point. One of my dive buddies said ‘if I were you I would dive every day’.”
So Ms Hirschfield decided she would dive as much as she could, which is between three and five times a week.
It’s a journey that has taken her on dive trips across the world including the Philippines, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Bali and around Australia.
She joined 22 other divers at South Beach Port Fairy on Saturday, and at Lee breakwater in Portland on Sunday.
On Saturday night, the underwater photographer and videographer shared her story at a dinner in Warrnambool hosted by Daktari Surf and Dive shop.
“For me, terminal cancer was not so much a death sentence as a wake-up call to start really living everyday more fully and doing what I was passionate about and sharing that with other people,” Ms Hirschfield said.
“It’s like I’ve got a better life now than what I had before when I was working everyday and not doing what I was most passionate about.”
Without the palliative radiation, doctors said she would have six to 12 months. “With the palliative radiation, they didn’t know how much time they would could buy me. They said it might be one year, two years, three years,” she said.
“They were able to shrink a grapefruit 10cm-sized tumour down to a golf ball size. That gave me much greater quality of life and lot more freedom to be able to travel and get in the water as much as possible.
“They can’t do chemotherapy, and they can’t do any more surgery. Palliative radiation is the strongest radiation you can have and you can’t have any more radiation in that area once you’ve had that.”
She is now monitored at the Peter Mac institute every six months.
PT dives because it makes her feel truly alive, and there is nothing in the world like Ocean Therapy!
She has over 1400 dives to her credit and numerous photography awards, including: Winner of the AIDE underwater photo competition in 2018 and Winner of Compact Macro division of the Ocean Art Photo Competition in 2020.
What Is Endometrial Cancer?
Endometrial cancer starts when cells in the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) start to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other parts of the body. To learn more about how cancers start and spread
Here a couple of photos from her blog.
I was diagnosed with Blood Cancer a number of years ago. One of the things that help with the journey is knowing people who are successfully managing all the fears, realities and the intrusive thoughts that fight for space in your mind.
Thank you PT.