Models are preparing to take to the catwalk for a fashion show with a difference.
The 17 women and one man, Chris Barr, taking part in the 2013 Fashion for Life have all been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past or are still receiving treatment.
The event takes place at the Villa Marina’s Royal Hall on October 25.
Organised by Isle of Man Breast Care, the event is held every two years, and this year’s show is being dedicated to support group member Louise Smith.
Louise, who has taken part in three shows, lost her fight with cancer in May.
The charity’s chairman, Sharon Maddrell said: ‘It’s an emotional night as most of us know someone who has been touched by cancer.’
Two women taking part are still having treatment and waiting for their reconstruction surgery.
Marks and Spencer has provided all the clothing for the show – about 55 outfits.
Sharon said: ‘Rehearsals started at the beginning of July with the ever patient Sonia Callin trying to turn us into supermodels. She directs the whole show and is a star.
‘Comperes are Dot Tilbury and Geoff Corkish who are always hilarious.
‘Gary Chatel is a great supporter and will be performing again, and this year we also have David Artus.’
Sharon explained the idea was formed in 2005: ‘I was aware that I seemed to be reading a lot about women who had just been diagnosed with or died from breast cancer, pretty grim.
‘So I had an idea to hold a fashion show with all the models being patients to show that, yes there are survivors and with a new zest for life!’
She had visions of the show taking place in a big church hall and said she nearly died when Dot Tilbury told her to go for the Royal Hall instead.
‘Trying to convince the ladies in the support group that walking out in front of 1,100 people on a catwalk would be fun, wasn’t easy,’ she said.
‘However we did it and what a buzz. With teeth chattering we walked out to the biggest cheers I’ve ever heard.
‘Breast cancer often robs patients of their self confidence, but that night we all got it back in spades.’
The event is sponsored by Shoprite and Celton Manx.
Tickets, costing £12.50, are available from the Villa Marina box office, the Welcome Centre at the Sea Terminal and online at www.vilamarina.com
Isle of Man Breast Care provides emotional, practical and where possible, financial support to patients and their families.
The charity is run by volunteers who have all had breast cancer themselves, and its message is: ‘You don’t have to face breast cancer alone.’
Chairman Sharon Maddrell explained: ‘In 1997, two years after my diagnosis, I was approached by a nurse from Noble’s Hospital who was doing a Masters degree in after care for breast cancer patients.
‘She asked would I be interested in starting a support group.
‘I agreed straight away as I had been helped by a former patient during the early stages of my treatment and found it invaluable.’
Patients receive an information pack from Noble’s Hospital when they are diagnosed which includes the charity’s details, so they can contact the support group whenever they feel they need a bit of help.
‘A cancer diagnosis is a devastating experience but patients say that talking to someone who has been through breast cancer is a great help,’ Sharon said.
‘Sometimes the treatments are not as scary or uncomfortable as they think and feeling desolate one day and OK the next is normal.
‘It’s a bumpy old ride and we are there for them for as long as they need us.’
There are two dedicated helplines and monthly informal meetings.
Sharon said: ‘One of our newest members who came along, a bit reluctantly, with her daughter, said at the end of the evening that she hadn’t laughed like she did since her diagnosis and to know that she wasn’t alone and could discuss anything with us, was a great relief to her and her daughter.’
Money raised stays on the island to help patients directly and quickly. Cancer treatments can last a long time and can cause financial hardship.
The charity receives referrals from GPs and Noble’s Hospital and has given out over £16,000 to patients over the years.
For more information contact Sharon Maddrell on 482662, Paulene Lamb on 420063 or visit www.iombreastcare.co.uk