Marie Tilley is one amazing woman.
Four years ago, when her children were aged just eight and ten, she was dealt the most devastating blow of her life after being told she had Grade 2 HER2 breast cancer.
There followed six months of chemotherapy, 18 rounds of Herceptin, a mastectomy and the tortuous psychological duels that accompanied her long journey to complete recovery.
This week Marie was told that she’s been selected as one of 24 models who will be taking part in the incredible Show by Breast Cancer Now, which has been hailed by the charity as ‘a fashion show like no other’.
“It’s more than a catwalk and more than just clothes,” say the organisers. “This is because our amazing models are people living with or beyond breast cancer.
“By using fashion, they can celebrate who they’ve become and reflect on their own personal experiences with breast cancer.”
Marie, who lives in Narberth, first spotted a lump on her left breast in 2018. She immediately went to see her GP who referred her to the hospital.
“ A consultant saw something in my breast but wasn’t overly concerned, describing me as ‘young, fit and healthy’, because I was only 38,” she said.
“I was told to come back in three months, which I did, and I was told exactly the same thing.”
A few months later, however, Marie felt a recurring, striking, pain in the same breast.
“Once again I was sent back to the consultant and almost a year after I first went, the consultant reluctantly sent me for a mammogram.
“And there it was – cancer.
“ I had five biopsies and was sent away bruised, emotional and angry that I hadn’t been heard, but simply palmed-off because of my age.”
Now, following her complete recovery, Marie devotes her time to motivating other people into living their lives to the full.
Last year she completed a mammoth 177-mile trek across Offa’s Dyke to raise money for breast cancer awareness as well as numerous fund-raising events in Narberth.
“Yes, I’ve had my ups and downs over the last few years and obviously scares that it’s returned. But I’m now in a far happier place.
“I’m back doing what I love doing, which is motivating others and living my life to the absolute fullest. And to top it all off, I got married to my beautiful wife, who stood by me through my breast cancer journey, every step of the way.
“This is why the Show is so important, as it helps us to spread the word that everybody’s cancer journey is different but there should always be light at the end of the tunnel as well as hope that the cancer can be beaten.”
The Show by Breast Cancer Now is generously supported by a number of top brands and individuals including fashion stylist Rebekah Roy who has worked with models including Kate Moss, Erin O’Connor and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, while the make-up will be by Estée Lauder and the hair will be styled by ghd.
The show will be streamed on the Breast Cancer Now Facebook page on Thursday 20 April.