This October, M&S is supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month by giving 10% of the sale price of their activewear line to Breast Cancer Now. The range is modelled by seven amazing women who have all been affected by breast cancer.
The products from the range will help towards Marks & Spencer’s target of raising £13m for Breast Cancer Now by 2020.
The seven women will be helping to promote the effect daily activity has on reducing your risk of breast cancer. Just 30 minutes of heart-raising activity per day can reduce a woman’s risk of getting breast cancer by at least 20%.
We spoke to the women to find out more about their personal stories and what motivated them to take part in the campaign.
Amanda Jones, aged 74
Amanda lost her youngest daughter, Becs, to breast cancer thirteen years ago, when Becs was 33.
“Becs' courage, patience and unselfishness through the eleven short months until her death was an inspiration. She is my inspiration every day and I knew that I must honour her memory by helping raise funds, awareness and campaign for research into breast cancer.”
To celebrate Bec’s life, Amanda became a supporter of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, now Breast Cancer Now, and has raised an incredible £280,000 since 2003.
“I want to ensure that future generations will know that those who are diagnosed with breast cancer will live with the disease and not die from it.
“Having worked with the charity for thirteen years and seen the advances in research, treatment and prevention, along with vital funding from partners like M&S, I know that we will achieve that goal.”
Fiona Coaton, aged 30
In May 2012, Fiona found out that the faulty BRCA1 gene runs in her family on her father’s side. Women with the BRCA1 gene fault have, on average, a 55% chance of developing breast cancer. Fiona was given the choice to get tested.
“I made no hesitation to find out if I had the BRCA1 gene fault. A few blood tests later, I was informed that I did. I made an educated decision to have a full mastectomy, and at the age of 27 (three weeks before my 28th birthday) I underwent the surgery to disarm the ticking time bomb on my chest.”
Fiona regrets nothing in life other than missing out on precious time with her auntie, who died after being diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer. That’s why Fiona tries wherever she can to give back and help prevent more women like her auntie dying from the disease.
Fiona is a fitness fanatic, relying on her trusted new Fit Bit which encourages her to get up and move about more. She is also a huge believer in clean eating, but allows herself the 80:20 rule – eating healthy foods 80% of the time, and treating herself 20% of the time – so she can succumb to cravings on the odd occasion, enjoying life on her own terms.
Lindsay Partridge, aged 52
“Before I got diagnosed with breast cancer, I was totally ignorant about the disease. I never checked my breasts and didn’t know anyone who had suffered from it.”
In 2013, Lindsay Partridge discovered a lump on her chest whilst away in Manchester with her husband. On the following Monday, she was the first person in line waiting for the doctor’s surgery to open. By Thursday, she was having tests and mammograms to determine the seriousness of the lump.
“I’m two and half years down the line now and I’m back to the old Lindsay. Now I ask lots of questions and read lots of things, and I’m no longer scared.
“It’s really important to me to do what I can to help Breast Cancer Now and this campaign with M&S. I have a young daughter who is 25 years old and I would never want her to go through something like this. So the more we can do and the fast we can do it, the better.”
Miranda Ashitey, aged 34
“I had just come back from my father's funeral, when I found a lump.”
Miranda acted quickly. Due to a family history of breast cancer, she went to her GP straight away and was referred to her local hospital. Following tests, Miranda was told she had breast cancer.
“It was all a blur and steps towards the start of treatment happened very quickly. I had already been in training to complete the Great North Run, so, with the go-ahead from oncologists, I ran it and started my first cycle of chemotherapy four days later.”
Being so quick to find the lump, get examined and start treatment may have saved Miranda’s life.
“I'm forever telling women I meet to check their breasts!”
Now, in 2016 and after successful treatment, Miranda feels she is no longer ‘the girl with cancer.’
She’s taking part in the Great North Run again for Breast Cancer Now. It will be two years to the day that she started chemotherapy.
Sarah Falola, aged 44
“I lost my husband to cancer in December 2015 and was diagnosed with breast cancer five months later.”
Sarah, a mum to three boys, had a double mastectomy in June 2016, one month after she was diagnosed.
“I felt like I could cope with cancer because I had just been through it with my husband. Cancer took eight years of my life and I wasn’t going to let it have any more.”
Sarah is currently in middle of her chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment, and is receiving wonderful support from her family and friends.
“You have to face everything head on and say ‘I’m a strong woman, this is not going to get the better of me’.
“I have got too many people relying on me and too much to do. I refuse to let this cancer get in the way.”
Sera Bains, aged 45
Sera was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer in her left breast in April 2015.
Her journey with cancer has been far from easy and she has endured extensive treatment, including eight rounds of chemotherapy, 15 rounds of radiotherapy and daily blood thinning injections for six months due to a blood clot in her arm.
Since her diagnosis, Sera has become a fitness enthusiast. She regularly cooks for her large extended family, takes walks and has taken up Pilates and yoga at her local hospital, where she enjoys some well-deserved ‘me’ time getting to meet and speak to other ladies living with breast cancer.
“When I started going to a Pilates and yoga class at the hospital, it really helped me through my journey. It’s given me more confidence.
“Before I didn’t want to talk about my breast cancer. But things changed and I realised I had to move on.”
Sera plans on taking a trip to India this year with her family.
Mandie Stevenson, aged 26
“I got diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2015, then a week later, the doctor told me it was terminal.”
After getting the news that her breast cancer had spread and become incurable (what’s known as secondary breast cancer) at the age of just 26, Mandie refused to let the disease stop her from living her life to the fullest.
Instead, she and her family have devised a bucket list, which includes treating herself to a brand-new mini cooper, which she loves, buying an adorable pug and travelling to various parts of the world such as Italy and Australia.
Mandie was in her local M&S store after her diagnosis when she saw last year’s lingerie campaign featuring our seven ambassadors who had been affected by breast cancer.
Seeing the women being the face of such a prominent and important campaign boosted her mood and outlook, and also gave her the confidence to go without her wig following her recent hair loss due to treatment.
When talking about her plans for the future, Mandie says:
“All I want is to see the world and enjoy life as happily as I can.”