Two Cults women are set to take part in Courage on the Catwalk, a fundraising fashion show organised by local cancer charity Friends of ANCHOR.
Alongside 22 others, Shelley Smith, 47, and Kirsteen Telfer Shand, 44, will be making their debut as models at three live shows running at the Beach Ballroom on May 11 and 12.
The event is more than just a fashion show as it celebrates and recognises the sheer tenacity, bravery and strength of 24 women who have all faced a cancer diagnosis – past and present.
Shelley was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
It was a heart-breaking discovery for the mum-of-two and her family, having lost both her mother-in-law and sister-in-law to the disease.
She said: “I couldn’t believe the outcome that I too had breast cancer.
“My husband lost his sister and mum, and his dad had also been diagnosed with bowel cancer but is now in remission.”
Determined to end the influence cancer had on her family’s lives, Shelley fought the disease, receiving her last radiotherapy treatment at the end of the year.
Despite the hardships of treatment, including a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she said the ANCHOR Unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary provided her with a feeling of ease.
Shelley added: “The first thing I was told about the unit was that it was like no other ward, which I didn’t understand until my first chemo session, then I knew what they meant. The staff were so friendly, very efficient and always smiling.”
Having previously attended Courage as an audience member, Shelley will now be taking part from the stage, with her family’s unwavering support.
In doing so, she hopes to raise awareness and funds for Friends of ANCHOR, while encouraging others to stay positive and never put anything off.
For Kirsteen, being diagnosed with a rare form of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma while her family were on a work placement in Canada, was an incredibly stressful time.
The mum-of-two said: “We waited eight months for a diagnosis, and in the middle of my third chemo cycle, we packed up our home in Canada to return to Aberdeen.
“Our two young children had to cope with my illness and a huge amount of change, with a new life in a new country, all at once.”
Returning home to be supported by family, Kirsteen received treatment in the unit.
During this time, she made use of some of the wellbeing support offered by Friends of ANCHOR, as a welcome distraction from chemotherapy.
Kirsteen said: “I particularly enjoyed getting my nails done while having chemotherapy.
“It took my mind off things, chatting with the lovely wellbeing team. It gave me a boost when I was feeling at my worst.”
Now in remission, Kirsteen is hoping to raise funds for the Friends while celebrating with her family after everything they have been through together.
Shelley, who attends the unit for Herceptin injections every three weeks, is also pleased to be able to give something back “for everything Friends of ANCHOR did for myself, my family and other patients”.
Around 8,500 guests have filled the Beach Ballroom for Courage on the Catwalk since the event launched in 2013, with more than £620,000 raised.
The event continues to benefit North-east oncology and haematology patients.