By UTE SCHULENBERG
AT 82 years old, most women would run a country mile rather than pose nude for a calendar. But not Barbara Dowling. For this breast cancer survivor, who tried skydiving when she turned 80, the idea of taking her clothes off to raise funds for breast cancer was 'a brilliant idea'. "My decision was instant ? and then I couldn't stop laughing," Barbara said. Her husband, Ian, said it took a while to find out what his wife was trying to tell him. "She was laughing so much she couldn't speak," Ian said. And Barbara didn't stop laughing until she saw some of the initial calendar photos. "They were so beautiful and then I really decided, I can do this," she said. "That's when I stopped laughing. "And I thought about other women, my friends, who weren't lucky like me and I felt inspired." Together with 11 other Mid North Coast breast cancer survivors, Barbara stripped for the Living Proof Calendar, to give hope to those recently diagnosed with the disease and to raise much-needed research funds. "The worst night was the night before the photo shoot ? thinking about stepping out into the great unknown," Barbara said. "It was a new experience, when 82, to take my clothes off (for something like this)." But the experience itself was fine. "I felt quite relaxed ? Greg (the photographer) was so laid back, and I held onto the thought of all those who didn't make it." Her husband, Ian, said he was very proud of his wife of 56 years. "She took on the skydiving ? this is minor," he said. Barbara said Ian had encouraged her all the way. "I'm the one who's up front, but he's there quietly supporting me." Daughter Penny Stewart said she was initially a bit shocked, when her son told her 'Grandma is going to be a Calendar Girl'. "But really it's just the sort of thing Mum would do ? she is always out there, reaching for higher things," Penny said. As the oldest woman in the calendar, Barbara has become a bit of a celebrity ? with a television interview lined up after the Coffs Coast Advocate's visit. "I'm enjoying it, she said." "And the warmth of this town (Dorrigo) has been overwhelming." But that's another story ? and you can read it in tomorrow's Coffs Coast Advocate.