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Press Release

M&S PARTNERS WITH BREAST CANCER NOW AND SEVEN INSPIRING WOMEN FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

19 Oct 2017

  • M&S will be donating 20 per cent of pink bra sales to Breast Cancer Now during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October
  • The retailer has invited seven inspiring women who have been affected by breast cancer, to front a nationwide campaign and model the range 
  • The women have used their experiences to create a short film “Life, Love, Laughter & Breast Cancer: In Our Words” to raise awareness of the fundraising partnership

seven women smiling

Left to right: Laura Otrofanowei, Hayley Rock, Emi Lou Howe, Lesley Stephen, Helen Peedell, Heather Shekede, Katie Hughes. 

This October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, M&S will be sharing the words and experiences of seven inspirational women - who have all been affected by breast cancer - in a campaign to help raise awareness of its partnership with Breast Cancer Now and raise funds for vital research. The money raised throughout October will contribute to M&S’s ongoing goal to help prevent 9,000 cases of breast cancer a year by 2025.

The seven women - Emi Lou Howe, Katie Hughes, Laura Otrofanowei, Helen Peedell, Hayley Rock, Heather Shekede and Lesley Stephen – have been invited by M&S to front its nationwide campaign across its stores and online channels (biographies are included below). Each of the women will model items from M&S’s range of pink bras, as the retailer pledges to donate 20% of sales from the collection this October to Breast Cancer Now'

To kick-start the campaign, the women have drawn on their own personal experiences to create a short film entitled Life, Love, Laughter and Breast Cancer: In Our Words. The 60 second video curates the words each of the women use to describe their individual attitudes and approach to a life affected by breast cancer - focusing on the experiences, people and things that matter to them.

Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer Now said: “We are so proud that these seven amazing and inspirational women – Heather, Helen, Laura, Katie, Lesley, Hayley and Emi Lou – have come together for this years’ M&S Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign. It is very poignant to hear them share their personal experiences of breast cancer, whilst helping to raise awareness of and money for Breast Cancer Now’s research.

“We would like to thank M&S and its customers for their continued and dedicated support in raising vital funds for Breast Cancer Now. Money raised in October, and beyond, will enable our scientists to undertake world-class research which could eventually lead to preventing the disease occurring in the first place, sparing women and their loved ones the fear, uncertainty and despair a breast cancer diagnosis can bring.
“We hope women across the UK will head in-store or online this October and purchase a pink bra to help support our vital research.”

First announced in 2015, M&S and Breast Cancer Now aim to raise £13 million over five years in a bid to prevent 9,000 cases of breast cancer a year by 2025. This will play a part in Breast Cancer Now’s wider goal to reduce breast cancer cases by 30 per cent by 2050.  

Jo Jenkins, Director of Womenswear, Lingerie and Beauty at M&S says: “The words of these seven magnificent women are truly inspirational, but we want this campaign to have a direct impact on the fight against breast cancer and hopefully, prevent other women from having to undergo similar experiences. We know this is a cause that matters deeply to our customers and colleagues – and together we want to continue to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Now’s incredible research.“

M&S is the UK’s market leader in lingerie, with over one in three bras bought in the UK purchased at M&S. For the whole of October, 20% of sales from 27 pink bras across its lingerie range – including post-surgery bras with specifically developed features for women who have undergone surgery, will be donated to Breast Cancer Now. 

The money raised will help fund Breast Cancer Now’s scientific research to better understand the risk factors associated with breast cancer. It is hoped this will lead to the development of a risk assessment tool that ultimately will better inform women of the options available to them based on their personal risk of breast cancer in the future and allow them to act to reduce that risk.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK. Women in the UK have, on average, a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. 

Life, Love, Laughter and Breast Cancer: In Our Words will be posted across M&S customer website and across its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

To find out more about how you can support the M&S and Breast Cancer Now partnership, visit:  www.marksandspencer.com/s/lingerie/breast-cancer-now 

-Ends-

For further information / interviews / images please contact:

Heather McLeod - heather.mcleod@breastcancernow.org / press@breastcancernow.org / 020 7749 4115 / Out of hours: 07436 107914

Alex Farquharson - 07342 056 085 alexandra.farquharson@marks-and-spencer.com 

For further information on Marks & Spencer please contact the corporate press office on corporate.press@marks-and-spencer.com or 0208 718 1919.

For further information on Breast Cancer Now please contact the press office on 020 7749 4115. 

Notes To Editors

 
Emi Lou
Emi Lou Howe, 38
Cheshire   


Emi Lou was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and went through chemotherapy and a mastectomy, followed by a second mastectomy.

Emi Lou said: 

“I couldn’t be prouder to be working with Breast Cancer Now and M&S this October. When I was first diagnosed, there was a lot of fear about the future and about my body. What I learnt was that my body was going to support me a lot more than it would let me down. If somebody had told me that following treatment and surgery I’d be modelling for M&S in my undies I would never have believed them - there have been many unexpected positives to this ride.

“Since my diagnosis, I have been passionate about accepting and nurturing my body and I feel I have a duty to share that with others, not just those undergoing physically changing experiences such as breast cancer, but everyone. So for me, getting involved in this campaign feeds my fundraising goals as I can support such a worthwhile charity Breast Cancer Now, but I hope it also gives people hope and a new message that you’re good enough, as you are, right now.

“The experience has been utterly surreal and I’m still not convinced it’s happening. I have loved every minute!”

 
Katie
Katie Hughes, 33
Surrey 

 
Katie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and has had two lumpectomies, a mastectomy and radiotherapy. 

Katie said: 

“I got involved in this campaign for a few reasons but mainly because I wanted to give hope to people who have just received a diagnosis, especially younger women like myself. The shock of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is horrendous at any age, but as a younger woman it brings all sorts of other issues into play.

“I want people to know there can be a life after a breast cancer diagnosis; I wish someone had told me that when I was first diagnosed, because initially it felt like my life was over.

“Being part of this campaign is something I am really proud of, even though at times I have been completely out of my comfort zone! It has been great meeting other women who have gone through the same experiences, and who completely understand what it means to have received a breast cancer diagnosis.”

Laura
Laura Otrofanowei, 32
Essex

 
Laura’s mum Debbie, 54, was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2016 and Laura has been helping her through her breast cancer journey, which has brought them even closer together. 

Laura said: 

“I wanted to get involved in this campaign to help anyone else in the same situation as me and my mum, to give them hope and support in a hard time. What struck me when I started supporting Breast Cancer Now was how therapeutic it was for me and my mum to come together with others in the same situation and how much strength you can draw from others, which is so important for your emotional wellbeing. This is why I volunteered to take part with in campaign.

“It has been truly inspirational to take part in this alongside six amazing women from all different walks of life. The fact that all of us have been brought together by something negative but are turning it into something positive has been an incredible experience. Breast cancer is a journey of highs and lows but we’ve really empowered each other through this whole process.

“I hope this campaign hits our financial goal and raises lots of money for vital breast cancer research but I also hope it creates a dialogue of people sharing their own experiences about breast cancer.”

Helen
Helen Peedell, 52
Oxfordshire 

 
Helen was diagnosed with grade three inter-ductal breast cancer in September 2016 after finding a lump in her breast. During the past year, she has undergone chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiotherapy.

Helen said: 

“When I was told on 1st September 2016 that I had grade 3 breast cancer it rocked my world. I was determined that it wouldn’t take away my sense of humour or my life with my husband and two children, so I vowed to fight it with everything I had. I’ve met so many amazing people; patients, doctors, nurses and health care assistants and they inspired me to do everything I could to raise awareness of breast cancer, to get people to check themselves for an early diagnosis, to not be embarrassed by their bodies and to love themselves no matter what!

“After going through chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiotherapy I received an email from Breast Cancer Now, looking for volunteers to take part in this campaign. It was then that I decided to show people that this disease shouldn’t stop you being who you are. I want to show women that you can still look beautiful and glamorous in gorgeous underwear after surgery. 

“I can only thank Breast Cancer Now and M&S for giving me this opportunity to show the world who I am. I have enjoyed every second of this experience. I have met six other amazing women whom I shall remain friends with for the rest of my life. So let’s keep on raising awareness and get women all over the country to check themselves and turn our stories into something positive.”

Hayley
Hayley Rock, 40
Cheshire

 
Hayley found a lump in her right breast in January this year during one of her regular self-checks. After thinking it was just a cyst, she was told it was breast cancer. She has just completed her chemotherapy and is currently undergoing radiotherapy.

Hayley said: 

“I wanted to be involved with this campaign to represent the younger women who are faced with a breast cancer diagnosis. After hearing the words ‘it’s cancer’, you imagine that everything has to stop and your life is over but primary breast cancer is very well treated. There are lots of options available to carry on living your life as best as you can – I used a cold cap to keep things as normal as possible for my two daughters so that they didn’t have to see me lose my hair.

“I feel very strongly about the need for further research into breast cancer, and I know all too well how research and access to new drugs can extend lives and reduce reoccurrence. It is so important for us to invest in vital research that means in the future nobody will die from breast cancer. Having two girls’ means this is particularly important to me as I want to safeguard their future.”

Heather
Heather Shekede, 42
Croydon

 
Heather was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer aged 32 after a very lengthy diagnosis process and then underwent a mastectomy. Heather is passionate about speaking about her breast cancer journey and raising awareness, so she can help other women in the same way that she was looking for help and reassurance 10 years ago. 

Heather said: 

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer ten years ago, I felt isolated, I didn’t see anyone that looked like me. I felt that although breast cancer was happening in the black community, women were not openly speaking about it. I wanted to show women of all backgrounds and ages that there is a life after a breast cancer diagnosis. It is a hard journey but that doesn’t mean there is no hope.

“Taking part in the campaign has really helped me to stop and think and be grateful that I am still here. After everything I have been through, I realise I have and will always be me. I have some scars and bruises but this just adds to the richness of the person I am.

“I am floored and in awe of the six other amazing and strong warrior women, who are still on this breast cancer journey, working, being parents, partners and wives. The love and sense of friendship that we have formed being in this campaign together has been the best thing to come out of this incredible experience.”

Lesley
Lesley Stephen, 51
Edinburgh

 
Lesley was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in early 2014. At the time of diagnosis, the cancer had already spread to her lungs, liver and bones. Lesley began chemotherapy treatment but in 2015 discovered she had three brain tumours and she started full brain radiotherapy. 

After a family holiday, which Lesley believed was her last, her consultant offered her the final place on a trial for a cancer drug that was in very early stages of development. Lesley has been on this treatment for 20 months now and it has been very effective. 

Lesley said: 

“I got involved in this campaign to raise awareness of secondary breast cancer – many women don’t realise that when the disease spreads to other parts of the body, it cannot be cured. I wanted to be the voice of those women who are on permanent treatment, and often too ill to speak out.

“It was also a chance to spread a message of hope – I have been on a clinical trial for almost two years and I am doing incredibly well. Science is catching up with cancer, and having secondary breast cancer isn’t necessarily the death sentence it once was, especially if you are proactive and take part in trials and research.

“It was such an amazing and fun experience taking part in this campaign. I met six inspirational women and feel privileged to have taken part in this campaign with them. Together we hope to raise a heap of money which will fund life-changing breast cancer research.”

About Breast Cancer Now

M&S has worked with Breast Cancer Now (via its heritage charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer) since 2001. During this time, M&S has raised £20 million for the charity’s cutting-edge research and public health engagement, including the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study, a study following more than 113,000 UK women over 40 years to help better understand the causes of breast cancer.   

Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity.

  • Breast Cancer Now’s ambition is that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live. The charity is determined to stop women dying from the disease, working in a new, collaborative way and bringing together all those affected by the disease to fund research, share knowledge and find answers.
  • Breast Cancer Now’s world-class research is focused entirely on breast cancer. The charity supports nearly 400 of the world’s brightest researchers at more than 30 locations across the UK and Ireland. Together, they’re working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, how to detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage so we can stop the disease taking lives.
  • Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in the UK. Nearly 700,000 people living in the UK have experienced a diagnosis and one in eight women will face it in their lifetime. This year alone, more than 50,000 women will be told they have the disease.
  • The UK still has one of the lowest breast cancer survival rates in Western Europe and this year alone around 11,500 women and 80 men will lose their lives. It’s time to act.
  • Breast Cancer Now launched in June 2015, created by the merger of leading research charities Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
  • For more information on Breast Cancer Now’s work, visit breastcancernow.org or follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.

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