Monday, May 27, 2024

Fashion show celebrates 24 people living with and beyond breast cancer

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A group of people living with or beyond breast cancer took to the catwalk of a fashion show to celebrate who they have become and to reflect on their experience with disease.

The 22 women and two men strutted their stuff on the runway of The Show by Breast Cancer Now, the UK’s largest breast cancer charity providing research, support and care to individuals.

The annual event in central London, which featured both an afternoon and evening show on Thursday, was hosted by TV presenter Lisa Snowdon, who has been an ambassador for the charity since 2005.

Snowdon, whose grandmother died from breast cancer when she was a child, told the PA news agency that early detection and seeking help is “key to survival”.

“I’ve always known that early detection is key,” she said.

“Asking for help, seeking medical advice, understanding your body and recognising when something doesn’t feel right is key to survival.”

She added that it was “unbelievable” to see the way the models in the show were “putting what they are feeling behind them” and “owning it”.

“Our models are smiling from ear to ear and it’s like they are levitating down the catwalk,” she said.

“I have such huge admiration for every single model that’s walking out on the catwalk, all living with breast cancer and beyond.

“They inspire me, they are incredibly brave, so positive and they have such courage and such positivity, it’s infectious – it really is.”

During the afternoon showing, the models wore three different outfits as they took to the catwalk amid the sounds of cheering and clapping and they ended the show by dancing together on the runway.

Kendra Schneller, a 51-year-old nurse from south-east London, told PA how modelling in the fashion show made her feel “confident” and “full of joy and happiness”.

“It’s also a little bit sad because we’ve all been talking about our journeys, which can be quite triggering, but I’m amongst some amazing people and I’ve got such hope for the future,” Ms Schneller, a mother of three, said.

“This is my way of showing everyone that you don’t have to be perfect, you can just be who you are and you can still be beautiful and you can still shine.”

Ms Schneller was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic and had a mastectomy.

She recalled that when she learned the news of her diagnosis, she rang her husband and told him “I’m going to die”.

“It’s just the thought of not being around for my children,” she said.

“I’ve come so far and I’m so pleased to still be here and share my journey and share my story.”

Ms Schneller, who modelled in the show and represented players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have raised more than £11 million for the charity to date, added: “Breast Cancer Now have been absolutely brilliant in terms of their support.

“I haven’t stopped using their services and I value them so much.”

Mark Winter, one of the two male models at the fashion show, highlighted the importance of men getting themselves checked for breast cancer because “they don’t know they can get it”.

Mr Winter, 59 from Polegate, East Sussex, told PA: “We don’t know we can get (breast cancer), I didn’t know I could get it, and you’re more likely to pass away because you ignore it.

“Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, speak to your doctor and get it checked.”

Mr Winter, who was diagnosed with breast cancer during lockdown and underwent surgery as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, said he felt “embarrassment” around his diagnosis.

“I was lucky because I caught it early and I didn’t have any major issues with sickness,” he said.

“The only thing I felt, because I’m a bloke, was embarrassment because I had a woman’s thing.

“It’s still a little bit embarrassing but it’s lovely to get my head around it with all the ladies at the show.”

He added: “It’s amazing because we’ve all been through the same, but it’s all been completely different so you get the good, the bad and the ugly.

“It’s lovely to speak to everybody and just doing this is amazing.”

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