Symington mum Kate Ellwood has survived breast cancer not once, but twice – and she’s got the scars to prove it, but that hasn’t stopped her becoming a model mum.
She lost a breast the second time but, instead of having reconstructive surgery, she opted for a tattoo of a lily to celebrate being alive.
Now Kate, 53, is preparing to take to the catwalk at Breast Cancer Care’s fashion show at the Hilton in Glasgow, its biggest fundraiser of the year.
“You have to come out of your comfort zone in life,” said Kate.
Kate works with husband Keith at their Autosmart chemical company, but the pair had not been together long when she was diagnosed – on Keith’s 40th birthday in January 2005.
Kate’s young brother had been killed in a road accident, aged just 34, before her diagnosis, and she was determined that her parents and her children – she and Keith each have two children aged 21 and two aged 25 – were not going to lose another family member.
“I was always positive,” she said. “I wanted to believe, and I wanted my family to believe, that my outcome was going to be good.”
The cancerous lump was removed, and she had radiotherapy and hormone treatment, and life went on.
“I got to my five years, and some of my friends threw me this big pink party, a big celebration, and less than a year later it came back,” said Kate.
This time, in 2011, she had a mastectomy and decided against breast reconstruction.
And instead of a party to mark her second five-year milestone, she decided to have the tattoo in the place where her breast had been.
“I got the tattoo to celebrate my five years clear,” she said.
“I was just going to celebrate every day.”
She described it laughingly as a midlife crisis, but she has been surprised at the positive response to the tattoo, especially after she was chosen for the fashion show and a national newspaper featured the photo showing the lily, with the blessing of her family.
“I am proud of it,” she added. “It is my celebration of survival.”
Over the years, she and Keith have raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities.
Now, Kate will be one of 23 models featured in the Breast Cancer Care fundraising shows on the afternoon and evening of Thursday, October 26, and they hope to help raise £150,000 to support people diagnosed with the disease.
“The message that we are all putting over is that it doesn’t matter how your body changes, you are still you,” said Kate. “You can still be that person. There are no boundaries after you have had cancer. It isn’t a disaster.”
Dawn Stanley, the show’s event manager, added: “We are so proud of our brave models.”
“Taking to the catwalk is a once in lifetime opportunity for our models to enjoy some well-deserved pampering and show that it’s possible to look great and feel confident after a diagnosis of breast cancer.”
For ticket details, visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/theshowscotland