Just say yes! From cancer treatment to the catwalk

Thursday 20 June 2019

Mandy Mahoney

A mum whose cancer has returned five times is living life to the full by always saying ‘yes’ to things that scare her.

Mandy Mahoney has already signed up for the world's largest inflatable obstacle course, entered a powerlifting competition with her daughter, agreed to take on a 10km run, and – despite a fear of heights – climbed the O2.

The 48-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. She’s had five further recurrences and is now living with incurable metastatic breast cancer.

Mandy, from Bromley in south east London, said: “I know how fragile my health can be so I want to make the most of life. I now say ‘yes’ to all the opportunities that come my way, even the mad ones.”

The mum-of-two’s next challenge involves strutting her stuff on the catwalk to mark Cancer Survivors’ Day on Sunday 23 June.

Now in its fifth year, the annual fashion show at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s celebrates those who have survived cancer and the teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust who have treated them.

Mandy, an outreach worker for children with autism, said: “I’m nervous about the show because I know my body’s changed and I’m not a model size, but where else would I get the chance to do this?

“I’m a different woman to the one I was before and I want to get her out and show her off again. It’s time for me to stand up and say ‘I’m still here and I’m living well with a terminal illness’.”

Mandy was treated at her local hospital before being transferred to Guy’s Hospital for radiotherapy and complementary therapy, which included reflexology, acupuncture, massage and counselling.

The effects of cancer treatment led to Mandy putting on weight so she joined a gym and took up powerlifting with her daughter, and the duo are currently training for their first competition.

Mandy said: “I don’t like being left out so if there’s an invite I say ‘yes’ even if I wonder why I’ve agreed afterwards.

“Lifting weights isn’t seen as feminine and breast cancer changed my whole identity so the fashion show is an opportunity for me to try something out of my comfort zone.

“At the moment my cancer is stable but I know I’m vulnerable and at some point it’s going to come back, I just don’t know when.

“It’s impossible to be positive all of the time so I’ve learnt its okay not to be okay. There are plenty of times when I sit at home with the dog and a packet of biscuits – it’s about balance.

“Ultimately I want to live long enough to be a terrible example to my two children by doing all the things that little old ladies shouldn’t.”

As well as a fashion show, live music, seminars and exhibits, Cancer Survivors’ Day, which is supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, also includes a Celebration Walk.

This heart-warming walk takes you along the Thames and through central London, amongst world-famous landmarks. All funds raised go towards providing care and support to patients and their families at Guy’s Cancer.

For more information about the Celebration Walk and to sign up for a place, visit the Celebration Walk event page.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity raises money to make the Trust’s life-saving care go above and beyond; from big things to small touches that help patients and their families feel looked after.

Last updated: March 2022

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