A woman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer a decade after she agreed to be a poster girl in a campaign encouraging gay women to check their breasts for lumps, will take on this year's Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run.
In 2003, when she was Director of Manchester EuroPride and Manchester Pride, Claire Turner, now 48, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, was photographed in a spoof version of the early Wonderbra adverts as part of a lesbian breast cancer awareness campaign. Assuming the images would only be used around the Gay Village in the city, she was initially shocked to see herself on billboards and buses across Manchester.
After realising the impact the campaign was having, Claire became conscious of checking her breasts regularly, and in November 2013, found a lump in her breast which was discovered to be Lobular Carcinoma in Situ (LCIS), an early form of Breast Cancer known as Stage 0.
Claire's annual mammograms were clear for three years, but she had a nagging feeling that there was something wrong in the same breast. After attending an early scan, Claire was dealt the tough news that she had Lobular Invasive Breast Cancer Stage 2.
She underwent a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction in January 2018.
Looking back on her experience, Claire said: “Being diagnosed with breast cancer is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It's made me take care of myself in a way that I never have before.
“It's changed my relationships with my family, my partner and my friends, for the better. And I feel like I've got something to say for other women and knowledge to share, which will hopefully do some good.
“I've also massively changed my life; reducing stress, losing two stone, eating much healthier and viewing life in a very different light.”
This year, Claire will feature in a new film alongside other runners and well-known Manchester faces showcasing the inspirational poem, Do Something, by Tony Walsh, aka Longfella.
Written by Longfella specifically for the Great Manchester Run, the poem embodies the universal feelings of ambition, motivation and celebration experienced by those who take on the running challenge; and the new film sees Longfella's poignant words being spoken by actors, influencers and real runners who connect to them.
Claire, who will run her first ever 10k at the Simplyhealth Great Manchester Run on Sunday 19 May, fittingly takes on the first line of the poem.
“Do something to show them what you're made of…
Do something you've never done before.”
She said: “Running a 10k is something I've never done before so the poem really relates to me and my experience. It's also about showing myself what i'm made of, as well as other people. It's a real honour to be saying the opening lines.”
Running to raise money for Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance and the Nightingale Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, Claire continued: “Lobular is the second most popular type of breast cancer that woman have; but because only 10-15% of women have lobular breast cancer, all the research around treatment is based around ductal breast cancer.
“It is very different and much harder to find on scans than ductal breast cancer, as it grows in long thin spiders' web-style tumours and rarely forms a lump.
“My experience has been amazing at the Nightingale Centre. And I think what really drives me through is that I really want to do it to raise awareness around lobular breast cancer.
“I'm really looking forward to the run too as Manchester is the place I've lived in the longest and has a lot of special memories for me.
“Achieving this goal and showing that something positive can come from a cancer diagnosis is really important. It's also a way to say a huge thank you to the amazing professionals who have treated me and the other women and men with cancer who have supported me along the way too.”