Breast Cancer Care Show: Alison Keenan makes catwalk debut


'It's a wretched disease that robs you of your femininity': TV presenter Alison Keenan enjoys feeling sexy for her catwalk debut at The Breast Cancer Care Show
The 15th annual event took place in London's Grosvenor House Hotel
All 24 models on the catwalk had battled breast cancerSpice Girl Geri Halliwell performed Wannabe as a beautiful ballad
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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UPDATED:

21:05 GMT, 4 October 2012

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Alison struts down the runway in her 'biker chic' look, one of four outfits she wore at last night's fashion show for Breast Cancer Care.

Alison struts down the runway in her 'biker chic' look, one of four outfits she wore at last night's fashion show for Breast Cancer Care.

Forget New York, London, Paris and even Milan Fashion Week.

The most inspirational fashion event of all is the Breast Cancer Care Show, which took place last night in London's Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair.

To celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the charity runway show, now in its 15th year, featured 24 models – all of whom have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

One of these models – who hit the runway after a stellar performance from an endearingly nervous solo Spice Girl Geri Halliwell – was TV presenter and mother of three Alison Keenan, 51, from Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

Alison, who presents on the QVC shopping channel, spoke to MailOnline about how the event helped her channel some of the 'sexy femininity' she worried she might have lost following the double mastectomy she underwent during her treatment for breast cancer.

Alison, who has supported Breast Cancer Care for the past 15 years, was herself diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer in January 2011 after finding a lump in her breast.

She has since undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a number of different hormonal drug treatments, all of which have, at times, caused her to lose her hair, her eyebrows, her fingernails.

She said: 'Breast cancer is a truly wretched disease. It scars you and robs you of your femininity. It changes you so much physically that you never feel the same way about your body.

'Even if your hair and eyelashes and nails grow back, to lose both breasts like I have….it's strange. I have no femininity.'

But all that changed last night when Alison, who often helps out behind the scenes at the Breast Cancer Care Show, made her runway modelling debut in four different outfits.

'Oh, it was grand! Completely
enjoyable, totally out of my comfort zone and absolutely incredible.

To have everyone whooping and cheering and whistling at you as you walk down… it's wonderful. I finally felt sexy and feminine.'

Two models hit the runway in biker chic at The Breast Cancer Care Show last night.

Two models hit the runway in biker chic at The Breast Cancer Care Show last night.

One model gets the giggles on the runway.

A model cheers on the catwalk.

Two models enjoy their moment in the limelight at the Breast Cancer Care Show

Wearing in clothes chosen by stylist Hilary Alexander, Alison showcased four different outfits: a biker chic ensemble with knee-high black leather boots, fish-net tights and a black leather jacket over a tiny sequined miniskirt; a blue, sleeveless, floor-length Stella McCartney dress with a hat; 'a fabulous African dress'; and a gorgeous red Biba dress, ' even though I never wear red'.

She said: 'It was lovely to have all 24 of us there together, and over the 48 hours we spent doing it we formed an extraordinary bond.

'My friends and my family were all there too, so it was quite moving. Especially since it was a year ago to the day that I finished my radiotherapy and it doesn't seem
possible that in the last 13 months I feel so much better.'

Alison struts down the runway in her 'biker chic' look, one of four outfits she wore at last night's fashion show for Breast Cancer Care.

Alison struts down the runway in her 'biker chic' look, one of four outfits she wore at last night's fashion show for Breast Cancer Care.

Working the African look at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

A model takes the stage last night.

All of the 24 models who took part in the show have been diagnosed with breast cancer

Ladies in red at the show in London last night.

Ladies in red at the show in London last night.

Alison added: 'The wonderful thing about the Breast Cancer Care show is that all of us are made to look feminine and sexy and it's brilliant.

'I've had to change the way I dress – covering myself up and no more low-cut tops – which is strange because I used to have quite nice boobs, and because of my job there is an extraordinary raft of photographs of my cleavage all over the internet! It's quite sad to look at sometimes.

'So I really enjoyed looking so racy last night! My sons Jack, 23, and Sam, 19, were crying throughout the show, but I could see my partner Colin whooping at
the end.

'The three of them and my daughter Lucy, 26, have been so extraordinarily supportive through all of this. I've been very lucky.

'Colin has never made me
feel any differently about myself or the way I looked.

'The wonderful thing about the Breast Cancer Care show is that all of us are made to look feminine and sexy and it's brilliant.'

'The wonderful thing about the Breast Cancer Care show is that all of us are made to look feminine and sexy and it's brilliant.'

Rocking the animal print look at last night's show.

Make-up time at the hotel before the show.

Models of all ages took part in the show last night in support of Breast Cancer Care.

Describing her particular type of breast cancer, Alison said: 'It's not a familial cancer, meaning it isn't hereditary,
so it was a very cruel coincidence that my mother was diagnosed with it just six months before me.

BREAST CANCER: THE FACTS

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK

There are 550,000 people in the UK living with breast cancer

The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8

Every 10 minutes someone in the UK is told they have breast cancer

Every year some 50,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer – 300 of these are men

There are many different types of breast cancer, so all patients receive different treatments

Breast cancer can affect breasts of any size

Approximately 81% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50

Nearly half of all cases are diagnosed in people in the 50-69 age group

Aleisha
Hunter, a two-year-old girl in Toronto, is the youngest person to ever
be diagnosed with breast cancer – she made a full recovery in 2011

A
lump in your breast does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer –
many women have lumpy breasts during their period – but if it doesn't go
away have it checked by a doctor

Luckily, her radiotherapy zapped the lot, so now she's right as rain which is wonderful!'

Unfortunately, in Alison's case, they didn't find the cancer for a year – by which point it had already
started spreading through her lymph system.

'I had a bilateral mastectomy, meaning I had them removed at different times,' she said.

'My second breast was taken this April. Now, after chemotherapy and radiotherapy, I'm only taking Tamoxifen, the standard treatment for hormone receptive cancer.

I'm not in remission and I won't be for another four years. In my case you aren't really ever clear, you just have to live around it. But I feel pretty well. Uncomfortable across my chest, and tired, but well.

'Breast Cancer Care helped me enormously after I was diagnosed because I was a bit of an ostrich about it, sticking my head in the sand and trying to deal with it alone.

'But when you meet all these fabulous women….it humbles you.

'There is always someone worse off than you. I met some lovely girls yesterday who have secondaries and aren't going to live as long as I might.

'But their enthusiasm and love and support at events like last night makes you feel really good about yourself.'

For more information about Breast Cancer Care visit their website.

SCROLL DOWN FOR EXCERPTS FROM ALISON'S BLOG

Geri Halliwell's gig at London's exclusive Grosvenor House Hotel was her first solo performance in seven years

Geri Halliwell's gig at London's exclusive Grosvenor House Hotel was her first solo performance in seven years

Actress Barbara Windsor arriving at the show last night.

Athlete Denise Lewis arriving at the Breast Cancer Care show.

Celebrities including Barbara Windsor, left, and Denise Lewis, right, turned out to support Breast Cancer Care last night.

THE DIARY OF A WOMAN WITH BREAST CANCER: ALISON KEENAN'S BLOG

TV presenter Alison Keenan has been blogging about her experiences with breast cancer on the Breast Cancer Care website since her January 2011 diagnosis. Here are some extracts…

Alison Keenan

Feb 2011

'My work with Breast Cancer Care through QVC has made me more aware and self examination was the saving of me. I have to be honest though and say that my invitation via the NHS around my 50th birthday to go and have a screening is the reason that I went, as I felt there was a change. Far better to get checked out than leave something to chance……..please…. :)'

April 2011

'Some
days I feel tearful, losing my hair isn't easy even though I bought
myself two wigs over a month ago. Finding pictures of myself tanned and
whole, on the beach last summer made me sad, but today the sun is
shining, I remembered to put the clocks forward, and I have all three
children coming over for lunch… reason enough to get on with the
treatment and get rid of this cancer.'

June 2011

'Some days it's hard to stay positive, when you can't sleep, and feel as though you are losing everything female… breasts, hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, fingernails… and as a result of my treatment I have catapulted into the menopause too! Mind you, when it's pouring with rain and eight degrees outside, I feel as though I'm sitting on a beach in Barbados in blinding sunshine!'

July 2011

'When I think back to where I was this time last year – tanned and healthy having returned from a fab holiday in Kefalonia – the old adage '”you never know what's around the corner” springs to mind. It's usually followed by “you could step off a kerb and get run over by a bus”. Yes, or you could be diagnosed with breast cancer, as I was, and then it's easy to see which is the better scenario.'

August 2011

'I hate the way I currently look – nothing to slap my make up onto, no hair to brush, lopsided breasts and hands that would make a 99 year old proud. Oh, and a tendency to burst into tears at the slightest thing. But in a a couple of weeks it will be time to start shopping for my 'Mother of the Bride' outfit to wear to my daughter Lucy's wedding. She cooked Sunday lunch for me this last weekend, and as she left she hugged me and told me to take it easy. 'Remember mum, you have to get better forever,' she said. Forever is a long time.

September 2011

'Finishing my chemotherapy brought about a funny mix of feelings. Relief, obviously, but also a strange uncertainty. For the last six months my life has been mapped out for me. I have spent a great deal of time in hospital with the same lovely staff and although I haven’t always felt my best, I’ve felt safe. Leaving there having said my goodbyes, I wanted so much to be able to be able to put it all behind me; to wave a magic wand and have hair again, pretty nails, both breasts and to go back to work, but of course that’s not reality, and for me, it’s not over yet.'

VIDEO: Geri Halliwell performs “Wannabe” acoustically at BCCS

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