I beat breast cancer and now I'm living life to the fullest and celebrating the all clear in a fashion show

“It was a huge shock when I found out I had grade 3 breast cancer."
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When Bernadette Neville, 68, from Preston, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2022, she feared she might not see her golden wedding anniversary in 2025.

But now, the grandmother-of-two will be celebrating her clean bill of health by walking in a charity fashion show in London.

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This April, Bernadette is taking part in The Show by Breast Cancer Now, a fashion show like no other as the 24 models taking to the catwalk are all living with or beyond breast cancer. Styled by top celebrity stylist Rebekah Roy, it’s an opportunity for the models to use fashion to celebrate who they have become and reflect on their experience of breast cancer, as well as raising awareness of the support available for anyone facing the disease.

Bernadette during treatmentBernadette during treatment
Bernadette during treatment

Retired wedding photographer Bernadette said: I was showering when I felt a lump in my left breast in 2022, so I called the GP and got an appointment at the breast clinic within the week. But then my husband’s appendix burst and he needed surgery. That was a whirlwind week, so I wasn’t worried about my appointment at all. I’d been so preoccupied.

“It was a huge shock when I found out I had grade 3 breast cancer. I thought about my great-grandmother Lizzie who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1920s. She was 63 when she died. Luckily my breast cancer was treatable.

Bernadette and husbandBernadette and husband
Bernadette and husband

“There were tears of sadness in my husband and daughters’ eyes when I was diagnosed. I remember thinking, ‘I’m going to change my negative news into something positive. I am going to live to tell my story.

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“So, over the next eight months, as I underwent a left mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I tried to keep doing positive things for myself like going to the gym, walking and eating well.

“Finally on 12 June 2023 I rang the bell that signalled the end of my treatment. Nothing can compare to the joy of that day and knowing that I would be OK and could carry on living life to the fullest.”

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with around 55,000 women and 400 men diagnosed with the disease every year.  Eight out of 10 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women aged 50 and over.

Bernadette after treatmentBernadette after treatment
Bernadette after treatment

Bernadette said: “Of course, I found the process upsetting. I never thought I would lose a breast and it was a shock. But I remember after my surgery being dazed and taking off my gown for the first time, and my husband gave me a kiss and told me I was beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes to think about it now, because at the start of this journey I didn’t know if I’d see our golden wedding anniversary. Now, we’re thinking of booking a trip to Madeira to celebrate. It reminds me how lucky I am and how far medicine has developed and is still developing thanks to the work of organisations like Breast Cancer Now.

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“I asked my oncologist what treatment my great-grandmother Lizzie would have had in the 1920s and he said it would have only been tablets. It made me more passionate about raising awareness of breast cancer research to help future generations, and also to raise awareness for everyone to keep checking their boobs!

Bernadette NevilleBernadette Neville
Bernadette Neville

“This is why I decided to walk in The Show, and to show that there is a life after breast cancer. My husband and my daughters will be coming along to watch me take part in The Show by Breast Cancer Now. I have never done anything like it before, it’s way out of my comfort zone but I’m so excited to take to the catwalk!”

You can take a virtual front-row seat on 25 April to watch Bernadette take to the catwalk and find out how you can help make sure that by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer lives and is supported to live well. 

To register to watch The Show virtually and for further information on The Show by Breast Cancer Now please visit: https://breastcancernow.org/theshowlondon

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