CANNING Vale’s Larissa Camilleri has had a tough past 10 years that includes heart disease, open-heart surgery and losing her mother to a genetic heart disease.
Now, she is using her talents as a model to raise funds and promote the Heart Research Institute after being selected as the only WA finalist in the Pinup Doll Australia national pinup competition.
When she was 17, she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart disease which took the lives of her maternal grandparents and has been passed down through her mother.
When she was 19, Ms Camilleri was fitted with a pacemaker defibrillator to correct arrhythmia.
She then had to have open-heart surgery at 21 to cut away a growth in the heart. “It was the most scariest experience of my life,” she said of the open heart surgery.
“Getting told at 21 to sign an informed consent form for an open heart procedure. It was a long recovery process and I was in hospital for a while.”
Ms Camilleri described the process as incredibly painful.
It was followed by her having fluid in my lungs and pneumonia and another trip back to hospital to have her lungs drained.
At the age of 24, her mother passed away.
“My mum was my best friend,” she said.
“We had the same heart disease and used to joke hoe we shared the same heart.”
Ms Camilleri went through grievance counselling when her mother passed away and was given the advice to find a hobby.
The former Lumen Christi College Student said her mother told her she always belonged in front of the camera.
She will head over to Sydney for the competition on October 22 and 23 and said the main reason for going was for the foundation.
“I started doing pinup modelling and I started to actually feel good about my body because it was really hard having that amount of scarring all over my chest at 21,” she said.
“I want to inspire people to love their scars and body.”
Ms Camilleri is still looking for donations towards the institute and people can donate at http://bit.ly/2dUHzcT.
You can find out more about Ms Camilleri at www.facebook.com/misslexiheart/?fref=ts.