The reality of cancer: brave mum Sue shares her story in pictures

Little hair but still plenty of lipstick for Sue after her chemotherapy treatment. She says losing her eyelashes was the worst bit and had eyebrows tattooed on before treatment.
Little hair but still plenty of lipstick for Sue after her chemotherapy treatment. She says losing her eyelashes was the worst bit and had eyebrows tattooed on before treatment.

A courageous mum from Worksop has decided to share the story of how she battled through the devastation of breast cancer.

Sue Yates, 54, is among the first cancer patients across Bassetlaw, north Derbyshire and south Yorkshire to divulge personal images and films in response to an appeal.

In bed, surrounded by scarves and fluffy fleeces, Sue recovering from chemotherapy.

In bed, surrounded by scarves and fluffy fleeces, Sue recovering from chemotherapy.

Called ‘Cancer: A Picture Tells A Thousand Words’, the appeal has been launched by the Cancer Alliance, a partnership of all the organisations delivering cancer care.

Its aim is to graphically show “the reality of cancer”, warts and all. And Sue is keen to tell, through pictures, how she suffered and recovered from the disease, so that future patients can be reassured and inspired.

Sue, who was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer in the summer of 2014, said: “A picture really does tell a thousand words.

“For me, this is about creating a legacy and helping others by talking about and showing real experiences of cancer through images.

Sue still proud to wear her bikini, even after her double mastectomy

Sue still proud to wear her bikini, even after her double mastectomy

“Many of us take photos to document our cancer journey, whether that is having treatment, just living with the illness or how we felt after.”

Sue underwent a double mastectomy, followed by five sessions of chemotherapy, and is still on medication. Since her recovery, she has become a trustee of Flat Friends UK, a national charity that supports ladies living without reconstruction or plastic surgery after mastectomy.

She regulary raises money for the charity by running 5K races with friends, and, two years after active treatment, she has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to go ski-ing on the slopes. She’s even planning a ski-ing holiday in the French Alps

“I think it’s really positive that people can share their stories to help others by inspiring them and showing what it’s like to have treatment,” Sue added.

Sue, back home with her dogs.

Sue, back home with her dogs.

“It’s also an opportunity to work with organisations connected with cancer care to understand what works well, and how things could improve for patients, their families and loved ones.”

The Cancer Alliance will collate all the images and film and post them on its new website, on social media and in promotional material.

Julia Jessop, programme director for the organisation, said: “We want to gather as many pictures as possible and tell as many stories as we can.

“These stories will then inform how cancer care improves, as well as building awareness of cancer signs and symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.

Inspiring and fundraising, Sue on a 5K run for the Flat Friends UK charity.

Inspiring and fundraising, Sue on a 5K run for the Flat Friends UK charity.

“The images don’t need to be professional-looking, not posed. This is about the reality of cancer.

“We are also looking for volunteers who are willing to talk to us about their pictures and potentially recreate their story into a picture board that we can share with other organisations.

“This is to ensure that we are putting patients and their experiences at the heart of what we do.

“It is just one of the ways we are trying to engage with people, but there will be many more.

“I would urge people to come forward, as Sue has done, and share their stories. It could really make a difference for others.”

A lifelong ambition fulfilled as Sue, fully recovered, takes to the ski slopes.

A lifelong ambition fulfilled as Sue, fully recovered, takes to the ski slopes.