This October, M&S has launched a new range of lingerie developed in partnership with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and modelled by seven women who have all been impacted by breast cancer.
Wednesday 30 September 2015      Corporate Partners blog
Meet the real women behind the M&S lingerie campaign for Breast Cancer Now

The M&S range includes a new post-surgery bra and 10% of sales will go towards M&S’ target of raising £13m for Breast Cancer Now over the next five years.

Seven women, all of who have been impacted by breast cancer, will be modelling the lingerie range across M&S stores. These women have bared everything for this campaign - both emotionally and physically.

We spoke to these women to find out more about their personal stories and what motivated them to take part in the campaign.

Sharon Jhheent, 45, Training Manager from Reading ­

Sharon

“I want to raise awareness as much as I can so what a great way to do so - real women having been through the disease themselves; what a great campaign message.”

Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and subsequently had various treatments over 10 months, including six rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy, radiotherapy and Herceptin.

In March of this year, Sharon underwent reconstructive surgery and says she now feels more confident about her body.

“Being part of this campaign was an overwhelming experience; something I've never experienced before. I have met some wonderful women and we all have a common thread. We have made friends for life.

“I am a supporter of Breast Cancer Now, so to be able to be part of this was a true honour. I want to raise awareness as much as I can, so what a great way to do so - real women having been through the disease themselves; what a great campaign message. I have never done anything like this before and I am grateful and humbled I was asked.”

Jo Ostermeyer, 41, Chartered Accountant from Maidstone, Kent ­

Jo

“A breast cancer diagnosis can really deplete your confidence, so I wanted to become involved to show that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, with or without scars.”

Jo was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer of her right breast on Christmas Eve, 2008.

She underwent a right-side mastectomy and node clearance a few days later in the run up to the New Year.Six rounds of chemotherapy, 20 sessions of radiotherapy and Herceptin followed.

Jo underwent a reconstruction in September 2010 and felt fortunate to find that the cancer had not spread further than her lymph nodes.

“The shoot and related experience has been the most uplifting, positive, life-affirming time. Not only have I met some amazing ladies in Sharon, Helen, Hannah, Leonie, Rachel and Donna, but to have the privilege of working with Rosie and Amanda is something I will always think of with a huge smile on my face.

“When I saw the advert on Facebook asking for models to appear in a lingerie campaign for Breast Cancer Now, I didn't hesitate in applying. A breast cancer diagnosis can really deplete your confidence, so I wanted to become involved to show that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, with or without scars. 

“I would never have thought that when I was sat down by the doctor to tell me I had cancer that a few years later, I would be appearing in a lingerie campaign for such an iconic retailer.

"It is probably something I would never have done before my diagnosis, but I have much more body confidence now than I did before as my body is now an example of incredible developments in plastic surgery.”

Donna Fraser, 42, Health and Leisure Manager/Breast Cancer Now Ambassador from Croydon ­

Donna

“Breast cancer awareness is very important to me, therefore I would do anything to support anything and anyone who is an advocate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” 

Four-time Olympian for Great Britain, Donna Fraser, was at the peak of her career when her success story took an unexpected turn.

In May 2009, Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. Three months later she reluctantly retired from the world of athletics. Due to her age and a high chance of recurrence, she was offered a mastectomy which hit her like a bombshell.

However, ‘Donna the Athlete’ soon kicked in, pushed her to focus and she decided surgery was the right decision for her.

“I enjoyed the experience, even though it was emotional at times – the crew were fab! I truly get inspired when I meet fellow breast cancer survivors, so getting to know my ‘new friends’ was the highlight!

“Breast cancer awareness is very important to me, therefore I would do anything to support anything and anyone who is an advocate for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. M&S are leading the way to promote the cause and having Rosie supporting is a fabulous bonus.”

Rachel Cholerton, 25, PR and Marketing Executive from Reading ­

Rachel

“I think it's so important to educate the public about breast cancer - people think it isn't something that's going to affect them, until it does.”

Rachel's mum was diagnosed with breast cancer when Rachel was 13 years old. Rachel's mum battled for five years and sadly passed away when Rachel was 18 years old, a month before she was due to start University.

“Being involved in the shoot was such a fantastic and surreal experience! It's something I've never done before, so didn't know what to expect, but it very much exceeded my expectations.

“I think it's so important to educate the public about breast cancer - people think it isn't something that's going to affect them, until it does.

“Both women and men need to know about the warning signs, and if what I've done helps just one person get to the doctors and get the cancer caught early, then I'll have felt I've made a difference.”

Hannah Gardner, 29, Clinical Researcher from West London

Hannah

“Losing my breasts hasn’t meant the end of my happiness or femininity and I wanted to show any women out there going through treatment that there is life, confidence and happiness after breast cancer.”

Hannah was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 26 years old.  She had a mastectomy, six rounds of chemotherapy and is currently undergoing reconstruction.

Hannah met her boyfriend when she returned to work after completing her treatment. Admitting that dating after breast cancer felt even more nerve-wracking than usual dating, she has said he has been a wonderful support to her.

“There are two reasons I wanted to be part of this campaign - if I can help secure the funding of research into a predictive tool that will save thousands of women the heartache and anguish of a breast cancer diagnosis, then I can really look back and say that I was part of something beyond incredible.

“I’m also very open about the fact that my breast reconstruction is still incomplete and that I’m not particularly happy with the way this area of my body looks.

“However, losing my breasts hasn’t meant the end of my happiness or femininity and I wanted to show any women out there going through treatment that there is life, confidence and happiness after breast cancer.”

Leonie Saysell, 54, Officer Manager and Qualified Beautician from Leeds

Leonie

“Hopefully, one day survival rates will be 100%”

Leonie’s mother passed away from breast cancer 10 years ago. In October 2010, two tumours were found in her left breast and over the course of the year had spread to her lymph nodes.

In November 2010, she had her first mastectomy and reconstruction.

Following the surgery, Leonie had six rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and in April 2012 she went on to have her second, elective mastectomy due to her family history.

“I got involved because I think it is important for a survivor like I am, to put myself out there for others to see who are diagnosed; for them to know that there is life after breast cancer and that good things can come out of terrible things. 

“Breast Cancer Now being partnered up with M&S is a brilliant opportunity to get that message across. M&S is such a household name and with this campaign, I’m hoping that we can reach every household in the UK and beyond to let them know that ‘together we can make a difference’ and hopefully one day survival rates will be 100%.”

Helen Bliss, 37, M&S employee from Northamptonshire

Helen

“To be brutally honest, if I knew that being photographed in my underwear meant that my daughter would never have to deal with this wretched disease then I would have done it naked."

Helen was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in December 2014. She has since undergone a mastectomy, axillary node clearance and six rounds of chemotherapy as part of her treatment.

She finished her radiotherapy treatment the morning of the M&S photoshoot.

Helen also writes a popular blog about her experience at helenblissblog.blogspot.com.

“I first applied for the campaign when I saw Breast Cancer Now advertising for models on Facebook; a friend of mine sent me the link and nudged me to apply. As it progressed, I realised that M&S was the retail partner and was worried as an M&S employee that it may affect my career if I parade around in my pants for the world to see…

“I had a chat with my mentor at M&S, along with some trusted friends, and they all reassured me that it’s not about how I look, it’s about helping the business to raise money to pioneer research that can ultimately save lives.

“To be brutally honest, if I knew that being photographed in my underwear meant that my daughter would never have to deal with this wretched disease, then I would have done it naked! I don’t want anyone close to me to ever have to go through this and will do everything I can to raise awareness and to support the incredible team at Breast Cancer Now to save more lives.“

More information

View the full products and watch videos from the ambassadors on the M&S website

Find out more