Viewers of Channel 4’s hit reality TV show, First Dates, were recently captured by the story of Bristol-based contestant Abi Galatia.
During the show she revealed some of the agonising trauma she suffered in her twenties: after being bitten by a dog in South Africa, which snapped her arm, she discovered that she’d contracted stage three bone cancer.
On top of five arm surgeries, she had to undergo almost 70 rounds of chemotherapy, which induced a stroke and halved her fertility success rate. “It was funny because what I said about it in First Dates wasn’t even the half of it, it was kind of a PG version,” Abi recalls. “What happened in my twenties was absolutely brutal.”
Thankfully, she’s now back on her feet. “Since I’ve turned 30 I’ve had a real mix of feelings when reflecting back on my 20’s. I love my dirty, flirty 30’s though,” she giggles.
Abi is now also pursuing a successful career in photography, despite not realising she had a knack for it until a month before her diagnosis. “I started out by taking pictures of people in the street; cool, wrinkled old men smoking cigs and girls covered in tattoos. After my results my friends got me photography equipment to help me get through it.”
Even with a severely broken arm, she persevered with her photo shoots whenever she had the chance, and retrospectively believes that the photos taken at different points of her illness reveal her emotional state at the time.
Of appearing on First Dates, Abi describes the experience as “good fun” and says she would recommend the show, despite opting not to see her date, Danny, again. “They do genuinely try to get you a good match. Unfortunately there wasn’t a spark there but he was a sweetheart and I can see why they put me with him.”
Despite being something of a jet setter, Abi is a Bristol-lover to the end. “I’ve lived in Cornwall, London, Cape Town, Brighton, Hawaii – but Bristol’s honestly my favourite. I feel safe here. It’s just such a cool, multicultural place to live – anything goes really. I can easily see myself settling down here. I bloody love it.”