On 11th June 2016 around 50 models each living with cancer strutted their stuff on the Concorde catwalk in aid of Maggie's.
Here are their stories.
“Being a Christie nurse didn't make me immune from getting cancer"
My name is Helen and I am 49yrs a foster carer and a staff nurse at the Christie hospital which will be where patients and families will be able to pop across the road to Maggie's the new centre that just opened and why we are all here today to support. I am married to my best friend Pippa who is also a model. We got a BOGOF on cancer in our house. Pippa first , and who had mouth cancer, then my breast cancer two years ago. so we can say that we fully understand and appreciate what many people go through when they are diagnosed.
We both treated our cancer as an "inconvenience " something that was not going to dictate our lives, that was going to make us both stronger and something that was going to help make me a better nurse. Because I can now say that I know exactly what you are feeling.
When I was diagnosed it was like going on a busman's holiday, Normally It was me sat with the patients, being there when bad news was broken, it was me hugging them and telling them that they would be ok, but all of a sudden at that moment the boot was on the other foot , but I was lucky the found it early and following surgery and radiotherapy I am now 2 years cancer free.
So why am I modelling for Maggie’s? The honest answer is that I have no idea, I'm no Kate Moss more Susan Boyle but I wanted to take part to support and raise awareness of the wonderful new place that has opened the wonderful Maggie’s Centre.
I only wished that when I had been diagnosed that there had been a Maggie’s for me to go to. Somewhere to sit and regroup before I went home to face our family, to try to find the words to tell our children, that is why this will be a truly remarkable place for patients and their families, a place where support can be given, a chat can be had and new friendships can be made.
My cancer journey goes back 54 years. My mother died from bowel cancer when she was 46. There was not much to be done in those days and it was a horrible painful journey for myself and my younger brother, not knowing then what cancer was and indeed never losing anyone close to us as my mother was. I can honestly say it changed both our lives.
My own journey started initially not with cancer but with a brain tumour. I was diagnosed in 2004 with a meningioma and had surgery in the October of that year and lost my hearing in the right side. After a second operation followed by an infection and meningitis I ultimately developed bowel cancer via a huge abscess on my liver. Surgery on the bowel in 2006 revealed I had the same type of cancer my mother died of in 1964 but at least mine was now treatable. The cancer spread to the liver and after another operation on that and chemo to mop up the bits, here – thanks be to the grace of God – I am and hoping to do my bit to help those wonderful, inspiring people out there. My only of advice would be to be patient and have faith. It's not a quick fix but ultimately life does come back and waking up one day and thinking “I feel really well today” is what life is all about after all……….. Paula
I am Ruth and I was diagnosed with cerebral meningioma in August 2014 and underwent brain surgery that same week. Nothing could have prepared me for how my diagnosis ansd illness would make me feel. Like most brain tumours, mine was found to be benignand surgery was followed several months later by daily radiotherapy. It all knocked me for six.
Physical recovery was only a small part of my journey and with the help of a loving family and friends, I am still recovering. As a family we owe so much to Maggie's. My wonderful oncologist completely got the measure of me and she referred me to them. I was a shadow of myself. They helped me face everyday life again and I even got back to work in January of this year. They understood everything I needed, even when I didn't have the words to tell them. I feel very proud and grateful to be part of Maggie's on the Runway.
I'm Angela and I worked for the NHS for 26 years looking after adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviours, I throughly enjoyed my job. In 2013 I was diagnosed with none small cell squamous carcinoma (lung cancer), the specialist told me that it was terminal... It was now my turn to be looked after by the NHS. After many tests I had an operation to remove my full lung and chemo to follow. I am very lucky as I am now cancer free. I currently have check ups every 3 months. The treatment I have received has been amazing. It was the support of my friends and family that I turned to when I felt low or exhausted.
I went to the opening of the new Maggie's centre and it felt like a blanket around my shoulders giving me a big hug. I certainly will be using the centre in the future. I am truly honoured to be representing Maggie's on the catwalk! I will strut my stuff with all the lovely people I have met on my journey.
I thought my life was coming to an end when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January 2002. My partner at that time found the lump, however he was very supportive at first and left me midway through my ordeal. I arranged for an appointment which I received within a week. I had a biopsy taken at the hospital and the news was bad. The doctor told me that I had cancer and needed to have a mastectomy as soon as possible as they were not sure whether it had spread to my lymph nodes. I was hysterical. I felt I had lost control and there was no future. I just screamed “please tell me it’s not happening”. Then “oh my God I am going to die!” I didn’t want to tell my family and friends as I did not want to worry them. A month later I went into hospital to have a mastectomy and 14 lymph nodes were removed. 2 weeks later I was told the disease had not spread. Despite the good news I felt an enormous sense of loss. My initial reaction was horror, I didn’t feel whole and I was never going to be the same again and I had no idea how to cope. The day after my operation the nurse showed me my scar; however I wasn’t shocked until a week later when I started to confront what happened to my body. Six months of chemotherapy and two weeks or radiotherapy my hair started to fall out which was another lost of femininity. I hated it and cried when I had my hair shaved off. It felt like the treatment would never end but somehow you cope.
I joined a breast cancer support group where we became involved with a photographer. She wanted to work with this type of group both men and women in the Manchester area to mark the Breast Cancer Awareness month by taking photos of each personal journey. These photos were for an exhibition held at the Whitworth Art Gallery from October 9th – 23rd October 2003 called “Beyond the Obvious”. Through this exhibition I was contacted by the Sun newspaper where I was proud to reveal in a topless photograph in the Sun Newspaper that my scar only went skin deep. I only had one breast but I still was that same woman. The picture was to show other victims that there is light at the end of the tunnel. However grim the treatment, to survive cancer is a wonderful thing! I am proud of my body now, it’s me and I am alive. It really helped me and I hoped it would help others. I wanted to show people that surgery is not an ugly thing and that we should not be scared of it. Accept it if you can because it’s given you life which is so precious.
My name is Penny - a retired nurse. At age 67 I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the beginning of 2010 (great start to the New Year), having found a lump in my breast just before Christmas (best Christmas present ever). I was told the way forward for me was Chemotherapy followed by surgery followed by Radiotherapy.
The word "shock" doesn't cover how my husband and I felt. We had just booked a family holiday in Barbados with both our children, their wives and our grandchildren. We had gone for it because we had lost four friends in five weeks and we thought 'let us do it while we can'. Having ascertained that I would lose all my hair, Roger and I went to my lovely hairdresser, Colin, with a bottle of fizz and three glasses, and said "shave it off". It was the only positive thing I could do to take some control and get one over on this ghastly disease.
Having gone through three stages of treatment it was a matter of getting back to normal - a way of life I had always taken for granted. But In April 2014 just as things were settling down, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and had to go through the same three stages. My strongest emotion was anger, and to be defiant, out came another bottle of fizz, three glasses and lovely Colin performed and my five year old wig came out of its box too.
I shall never call my husband an MCP again!! Roger, our family and friends were amazing. Without their help and support and without the wonderful treatment and care I received from the doctors and nurses, particularly at the Christie Hospital, I think I might have been locked away for bad behaviour.
I was invited to a Look Good Feel Better session and I can highly recommend it to anyone who still wants to look good with no hair, eye lashes or eyebrows.
I am honoured to have been asked to support Maggie's. It is a wonderful thing to know that there is a place where one can go and talk to folk who actually understand the issues surrounding cancer treatment.
We celebrated our Golden Wedding Anniversary in March 2015 and had to cancel our celebratory holiday, but here I am currently in California, a year later, having cruised through the Panama Canal, doing exactly what we had previously planned. There are some dark times, I call them "the cancer clouds", but I have always managed to get out from under them quickly, face the sun and be thankful for the life I have and the people in it.
Life as I knew it was taken away .......... and a new life has been given back to me.
I first became aware that there was a change in the shape of my right breast just before Christmas 2008. I had a bit of a routine which shows how crackers I am; on pay day every month(a great prompt) I always topped up my pay-as-you-go mobile phone and did a breast exam! On this occasion it felt like there was a little piece of knotted string below the surface of my right breast. No lump though so that’s Ok. Or so I thought. I was one of those women who didn't know about other signs to look for other than a lump. But just to be sure I made an appointment with my GP. I had to wait a few days for an appointment but the morning I was due to see the doctor my right breast had swollen and caved in. In fact it looked like dough when you hit it with a rolling pin. And one breast had become two!!
My GP fast tracked me to see a consultant and I received a phone call the same day telling me that I had an appointment the next afternoon. I went to the hospital and the consultant took one look at me and introduced me to a breast care nurse, who took me for a mammogram, followed by an ultrasound scan and biopsy. When I returned to the consultant’s office she didn’t use the word cancer at that point, but indicated that she felt we were both aware what the diagnosis would be. Before I left, I was booked in for a CT scan and bone scan. I would have to wait a week for the results of my biopsy. I was in a complete daze!
I went home to tell my husband. I didn’t go back into work that day, but instead we went out and ate cake, two in fact, each!!
My husband accompanied me for my results and I’m not sure how much either of us really took in as we were told that it was, as the consultant had suspected, inflammatory, locally advanced breast cancer and it was very aggressive. Later I was to find out it was also Oestrogen and HER 2 positive, and I would be invited onto the ‘Persephone’ trial. Any decision making was removed I am happy to say as the consultant explained that my only option was to start a course of Chemotherapy to try to shrink the tumours first, followed by a radical mastectomy with full clearance of my lymph nodes and then a course of radiotherapy. The whole process lasted about 10 months. I was told that my chemo cocktail would definitely result in hair loss so I decided that as I was a teacher I would invite students and stafffrom across the college to take part in a lunchtime fundraising hair cutting and head shaving event. We were actually rolling about laughing as they paid to cut chunks out of my hair (Wurzel Gummidge came to mind) before my head was shaved.
In consultation with my surgeon and oncologist, it was decided that I would have a prophylactic mastectomy to remove my left breast and therefore reduce the risk of recurrence. I would need to wait a year to give my body time to recover. It took place in 2010.
Now as a cancer survivor I am more aware of the importance of fundraising for charities like Maggies. The support offered not only to the people affected by cancer directly, but also to their families is amazing. And what now? It has always been my choice not to wear prostheses, it was also my choice not to have reconstruction. So after reaching my unexpected 5 year remission I began reclaiming my body to show that cancer doesn't always have to leave the last mark. I have just completed a tattoo, transforming my scars into art. Now, every morning I can wake up to see a beautiful piece of body art. I am my very own walking canvas!
So it is with renewed confidence that I can now enjoy strutting my stuff at Maggie's on the Runway charity Fashion Show. I can't wait!
In March 2015 I had large red area on my right breast. Went to 'Go Doc' as it was a week-end, he said I had an infect gave me antibiotics .
At work the next day I kept thinking that I needed to go to my own Doctor just for some reassurance. Luckily it was 'Well women's clinic', so I didn't need an appointment. Went straight after work. My Doctor examined me, said "yes it probably is an infection". He picked up the phone and rang the Nightingale Centre, made me an appointment and told me that I was going to the Nightingale Centre in the morning. Two weeks later I returned for a mammogram, then sent for a 3D mammogram, then asked to wait, I thought what's going on, this isn't usual.
I was told the lump was cancerous and I would need to have it removed.
All I could think of was that my daughter was due to give birth to her first baby and my first Grandchild. I had just applied for a permanent job at work. All I could think of is that I wanted to live to see the baby and be there for my daughter and my other children and I would have to withdraw from the job.
I drove home. Both my daughters were there. I told them we all had a cry. I phone both my sons and had another cry. One of my son's is living in Southampton, 2am Saturday morning there was a knock on the door, there stood my son and his girlfriend they had got the first available train. I did a lot of crying over the next few weeks, think I was in shock and felt as though I was going into the unknown. I had never had an operation in my life before.
My Chemo started the day my daughter came out of hospital with my granddaughter. My daughter had come to all the appointments before the op. One of my sons came to every Chemo session, makes me cry thinking of how good they all were. I thought I could go to work I between each chemo session, no chance. I felt so ill began to recover, then back again for more. The night my hair started to fall out I texted all my children.
4 months later Chemo finished,radiotherapy started. My friend Kirsty was wonderful she phoned me every week. My friends at work came to visit me. The support I had from family and friends was great. It's taken me until now, just over a year, to feel back to myself.
Maggie's aim is to support everyone that is affected by cancer and that includes, family and friends too. This remarkable lady Cath Stone cares for her 21year old daughter Helania ( See Debenhams Catwalk Models). Helania not only has a very rare genetic condions, but she also has undergone cancer treatment, not once but twice. As well as caring for Helania, this remarkable woman and her husband Colin have set up the UK branch of the Costello Kids charity to raise awareness of this condition. We thought that Cath deserved to be one of our catwalk models on 11th June.
Faye Macrory MBE
On October 26th 2012 and the day before my son Theo's 15th birthday, I had a routine mammogram. Afterwards I went to get my hair cut at my salon which is next to Christies and Greg my stylist was chatting about the lovely new wigs he had ordered for patients attending Christies. I joked that the only time that I would ever have long hair again would be if I got cancer. As he said later 'you should be careful what you wish for....'
I then got a letter asking me to return which I didn't initially pay much attention to as I had been recalled some years previously to have the mammogram repeated at Withington Community Hospital. As there was no mention then of anything suspicious, I was unconcerned assuming it was just a routine repeat. Later that day on re-reading the letter I realised it was for an appointment at the Nightingale Unit at Wythenshawe Hospital and the possibility of a needle biopsy was suggested. As I had no signs nor symptoms I wasn't unduly alarmed.
Following the needle biopsy the initial result was that all I would probably need was a lumpectomy then annual mammograms. However all that changed when I got my results from the lumpectomy just before New Year 2013 and what was maybe a walk in the park suddenly escalated to climbing Everest. Grade 3 invasive and aggressive cancer had been found within the calcification and I would now need chemotherapy followed by a mastectomy - and if my lymph nodes were involved, radiotherapy. My main memory of that appointment was that my hand really hurt as my sister was squeezing it so tightly!
Telling my son was pretty difficult but I made the decision that I would not be including the words e.g. survivor, battle, war, victim, worse, brave, etc. in any of the conversations we would have. Instead, a lot of humour got us through the hard times, in fact, I couldn't have done this without them. The loving care from my family and many friends near and far still keeps me safe and supported in moving forward towards the future.
Fast forward to June 2013 - after 6 sessions of chemo with all the side effects (losing my nails was worse for me than no hair) I had a mastectomy. There was no lymph node involvement which was a great relief . I was t then treated at home with IV Herceptin until March 2014.
I went back to work full-time in April 2014 as consultant midwife at St Mary's and was so pleased to have retained my enthusiasm for my very busy role. For me, being a NHS professional and a patient at the same time took some getting used to but consider overall it was a bonus as I didn't feel as scared as I might otherwise have been. It also kept the nurses and docs on their toes in case I asked awkward questions !!
I waited until January of this year to have a DIEP Flap breast reconstruction as I was undecided about such a big op (that didn't feel 'necessary') but am thrilled with the results. Can't wait to go shopping again for lovely underwear!
While I was on sick leave I was lucky to have support from the clinical psychologist I saw in my professional NHS role, so didn't need to take on additional input from the many excellent cancer support groups both within and outside Christies
I'd read aboutMaggie's Centres when I was having treatment and did wonder why we didn't have one here at Christies as it is such a great treatment centre. I was thrilled when I knew one was being planned here in Manchester. It will be such a wonderful place to be able to drop into without having to make an appointment and just to relax outside of the treatment situation.
I feel very privileged to be involved with the Maggie's celebrations and strutting my stuff on June 11th - and I look forward to meeting with all my new friends again.
And I got 2 wonderful wigs (my long spare hair) from Greg!
I am someone who likes to always be on the go. I spent my working life travelling around the world organising congresses and exhibitions. After I finished work my husband and I continued to do lots of international travel as well as spending time at our house in Spain. In November 2013 after a routine mammogram life changed for a while.
I had two lumpectomies and needed a course of chemo and Herceptin. I still needed a third lumpectomy but I then decided to have a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. However due to my fantastic oncologist I had a course of chemotherapy which really gave me no side effects. I was never sick, or tired and I kept up my Pilates classes throughout. I managed to fit in a trip to Spain half way through the chemotherapy and once I was on Herceptin I was able to go over to Spain for a few weeks at a time and fly back for my injections. I managed to fit in 3 further minor surgeries to finalise the reconstruction.
Never for a moment did I think I should feel sorry for myself or why. Once I found a consultant I liked (I changed my first), it's a case of getting on and once you are on the treatment plan ticking off the weeks. So I decided if we could not always travel abroad we would see a bit more of England. I had great family support and good practical advise from my daughter who is a doctor and her colleagues who had worked in on oncology and surgery. I actually enjoyed wearing my three wigs (some of my friends comments on how good my hair looked revealed my diagnosis!). I researched how I could keep my gel nails - which I did the whole way through. I researched products for fast regrowth of my eyelashes and had my eyebrows and eyeliner lasered on before I started the treatment. I further researched practical ways to keep my hair and dealing with neuropathy. The latter I worked closely with my consultant who is a strong advocate of using cold mittens and bootees which has definitely worked as I have no side effects after my treatment.
It would have been wonderful to have a place like Maggies to go to during my treatment and I am passionate about everyone getting the right care and treatment as well as the best way of feeling good about themselves. I hope my spot of modelling can promote this, if and that a place like Maggies can become an integral part of everyone's treatment programme in the future.
In December, 2012 I visited the dentist for a check up and he noticed a sore on my tongue. He thought I might have nicked it with a knife, but when it hadn't gone by my next appointment he suggested I went to the doctor. Subsequently I was sent for a biopsy and diagnosed with a type of cancer called Trismus which affects the whole of the mouth and throat.
My course of radiotherapy at Christies took two months during which time I had to be admitted, as I was ill with the treatment and reacted badly to it which has left me with an exceptionally dry mouth and now I don't produce enough saliva to digest food. I find it difficult to open my mouth and to speak. As a consequence to this I can only eat yoghurts and ice cream and feed by a tube mostly at night but sometimes I have to wear it during the day.
I only wish Maggies was there when I was going through my treatment. Its such an inspirational place and it will be a life line to people with cancer and the family and friends who travel the journey with them."