Emotional journey along the catwalk

A Norfolk cancer survivor has taken to the catwalk before the world's media to show she is anything but a victim.

A Norfolk cancer survivor has taken to the catwalk before the world's media to show she is anything but a victim.

Lit by camera flashes and swathed in dazzling designer dresses, 58-year-old Glynis Billett was one of 24 models taking part in the Breast Cancer Care annual fashion show in London on Wednesday.

The beaming breast cancer survivors looked radiant in Swarovski jewellery, clothing by fashion's biggest names, Estee Lauder make-up and hair styled by Sassoon Salons.

But the grandmother from North Creake, near Fakenham, admitted that behind the glamour she and her fellow models were moved to tears by the rapturous reception.

There was also barely a dry eye among about 50 of her friends and family, including her three adult children and her oncologist, who watched the evening show.

Mrs Billett has suffered the trauma of a mastectomy and losing her hair to chemotherapy and said the event was about sending a message of hope to those struggling with the disease.

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She will undergo reconstructive breast surgery next Thursday and is in the latter stages of a treatment by the drug Herceptin.

Speaking as she travelled back to Norfolk yesterday, she said: "There was a real sense of camaraderie between the models; friendships were formed that will last.

"I never thought I would find myself walking down the catwalk but the kindness in people's reaction was overwhelming for us."

She said that the show had raised awareness and demonstrated that women could keep their femininity, elegance and confidence despite having a mastectomy.

"The show was about showing to people you can come through this a stronger person, there is life after breast cancer," she said.

"I am positive about the future now and find I just enjoy and appreciate everything so much more.

"But of course there are times when I am still frightened, I have got an MRI scan coming up and you can not afford to stop thinking about these things."

Mrs Billett was diagnosed with breast cancer in March last year after discovering a mark under her right nipple and underwent three months of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiotherapy and a mastectomy, as well as treatment with Herceptin.

The show is part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and raised nearly half a million pounds to help people affected by breast cancer last year.

For more information about breast cancer call the Breast Cancer Care helpline on 0808 8006000 or visit www. breastcancercare.org.uk

See the EDP next week for more special coverage of breast cancer and the groundbreaking book by Elaine Sassoon, one of the country's top plastic surgeons working here in Norfolk. In a series of extraordinary stories, women who have had breast cancer will be revealing how it has affected their bodies and their lives.

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