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Viv shares the story of her strong, passionate daughter, Tanya, and how she donates in her memory every year

Diagnosed at age 26, Tanya ‘began a quest for experiences,' ensuring to live life fully. Viv, Tanya's mum, shares Tanya's story and how she keeps her memory alive.

Headshot of Tanya

Can you tell us a bit about Tanya’s story?

Growing up, Tanya loved the outdoors, cars and design, and she represented the county for archery. She went on to get a 1st in industrial design from Cardiff University, where she met her husband, Conny, and had placements in Umeå, the south of Sweden and Gotherburg (working for Volvo Cars). She then did an MA in Transportation Design in Sweden, and a MA Interior Design course at Brighton University. Feeling like her heart was in Sweden, she then made it her home.

In May 2005, Tanya was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started chemotherapy and planned for a mastectomy after the tumour had shrunk enough. But, after a bout of seizures, the cancer had spread to the fluid around her brain and became inoperable. She asked for the worst-case scenario and was told she might not live to the end of the year, making her determined to prove them wrong.

Tanya is at a wedding with a man

With lots of living to do, Tanya began a quest for experiences. She kept a diary hoping to publish it. She wrote that she wanted ‘to have something good come out of all my experiences, something that talks about cancer, feelings, emotions and expectations at age 26.’ After her diagnosis, Tanya never allowed cancer to rule her life - it was just something to overcome, and she continued smiling and being positive. In 2005, she got engaged to Conny and had an informal, stunning white wedding, even down to the snow, before enjoying a honeymoon in Mauritius. She also achieved her dream of owning a Swedish summerhouse.

Tanya died on 22 March 2006 in her beloved Sweden with Conny, her father, her younger brother James, and myself, at her bedside.  She wrote in her diary on 21st December 2005: 'I really need to know that everyone will be there for each other, to help and support one another, through remembering, understanding and knowing me.'

As James Dean said, dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die tomorrow. This was exactly how Tanya lived.

Do you have any advice for someone going through a similar experience to you?

Supporting someone through breast cancer, indeed any cancer, is extremely hard, but just concentrate on each day - the future is unknown. It is so very important to make memories, however insignificant they might feel at the time. They are just so wonderful to look back on.

Why did you decide to support Breast Cancer Now, going forward, and can you tell us a bit about this?

I’ve done a lot of fundraising for breast cancer over the years.

In 2015, when Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer merged into Breast Cancer Now, with an emphasis on research and support, this seemed the best charity to concentrate on.  Every year, instead of sending Christmas cards, I donate to Breast Cancer Now in Tanya’s memory, especially as her birthday was 17 December.

Tanya is on a boat

Why is donating in Tanya’s memory important to you?

For me, donating to a breast cancer charity keeps Tanya's memory alive and it’s what she would have wanted - she was so passionate about helping and supporting others going through the same thing, one reason why she kept a diary which she hoped would be published. 


If you’d like to pay tribute to a loved one, like Viv, there are lots of ways you can support Breast Cancer Now in their name.

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