‘Breast cancer doesn’t just happen to older white women’

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WINNER: Heather Shekede, second right, collecting her award

A MUM who lost a breast to cancer has been given an award for her bravery after posing topless for a charity’s awareness campaign.

Heather Shekede posed for a Breast Cancer Care (BCC) poster with the moving words of a letter she had written about learning to love her body after cancer, super-imposed on her naked back.

The 40-year-old children’s nurse won the Dove Self Esteem Award at the Body Confidence Awards, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image in the House of Commons.

Shekede, who found out she had cancer at just 33, said the diagnosis was “a shock”.  She is urging young black women to be breast aware.

EXPOSED: Shekede’s campaign shot

“I was 33 fit and healthy and I never used to check my breasts because I didn’t think there was a need to.

Everything I saw about breast cancer was saying it happened to older white women. It wasn’t something I thought would ever happen to me,” she told The Voice.

According to BCC, black and Asian women diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK have lower relative survival rates than white women, mainly because of delayed screening and diagnosis.

Shekede now volunteers for BCC and is hoping to inspire and encourage women who are worried or who have been recently diagnosed, with her survival story.

The south Croydon resident said: “I have had so many women call me and say I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I am so scared.

“I can share with them how I went through it and came out on the other side; and even though I have lost a breast and haven’t had a reconstruction, I am comfortable with my body and happy with who I am. My breast doesn’t define me and cancer doesn’t define me.”

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In : Health, London

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