Fashion Targets Breast Cancer by Breast Cancer Now is back and we’re so proud to be their longest serving fashion partner. Having joined the campaign in 1996, we have now raised over £3million for the charity and are on our 24th FTBC edit. This year we’re calling on you to ‘wear something important’ from out collection with 30% of each piece helping Breast Cancer Now continue it’s vital work helping people in need. People like our lovely models Laura, Rebecca and Sonia who have all experience the life changing diagnosis.

Read on to learn more about these three amazing women and why they are proud to be involved in this year’s campaign …

Tell us about yourself ...

I'm Laura, I'm 28 years old from Somerset and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. 

When were you diagnosed with breast cancer?

I found the lump in 2018 when I was studying for my exams at dental school. I powered through my exams and went on holiday. When I came back, I felt the lump again. I decided to get it checked out. Initially, I was told it was potentially just a cyst, but then I got referred to the local breast care unit where I had further biopsies and ultrasounds. I went back two weeks later, and they told me that I had breast cancer. 

How did it feel to be diagnosed at such a young age? 

It was completely surreal. You go back thinking it’s just a lump and you’re fine, and you carry on with your life. Then you’re told that you have this disease which could potentially change your life for ever. The drive home was an out of body experience - there was a lot to process. 

What does it mean to be part of Breast Cancer Now’s Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign? 

I’m really honoured to be a part of Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. I’m proof that breast cancer does affect young women, but I’m also proof that you can come out the other side a better person. It’s been amazing to meet other women who have had similar experiences to me. I feel like I’m part of a really strong, powerful group.

What would you say to someone thinking of buying something from the River Island Fashion Targets Breast Cancer collection?

I’d say, DO IT! You are supporting such an incredible charity that affects so many women of all ages and could one day be funding treatment and supporting someone you know.

Has breast cancer impacted your identity or self-confidence?

If you had asked me about my confidence after my diagnosis, I would have said not confident at all, but now I’m more confident than ever. I am a lot more confident with my body image and who I am, what I want from life, what makes me happy, and what doesn’t.

What outfit or piece of clothing makes you feel good?

I always feel my best in a pair of great fitting jeans. I love that they can be dressed up or down!

What’s the one thing you want people to know about your story?

I never expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer at 26 in my second year of university. However, I am proof that you can still achieve your dreams and ambitions in life, regardless of what challenges are thrown at you.

Tell us about yourself ...

My name’s Sonia I’m from London and I’m 32. I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 28.

Can you tell us about your diagnosis?

I was on holiday in New York when I found my lump. I rolled over in bed and the side of my arm rubbed against the side of my breast. I immediately started crying. I knew in my gut what it was. When I got home, I went to the GP who told me it could be a hormonal lump. I went back a few weeks later where I was referred for a biopsy and formally diagnosed.

Has breast cancer impacted your identity or self-confidence?

It’s been hard to come to terms with all my scars but weirdly, it has given me more confidence. Before my diagnosis I was very insecure and used to always worry about my weight and pick at little things about myself. Now I look back at pictures and think, what was I thinking? As much as cancer stripped me of everything, it’s given me a type of confidence in myself I’ve never had before.

You’ve mentioned about wanting to raise awareness of breast cancer within the Asian community. Why is this important to you? 

It’s important because I feel many Indian people diagnosed with cancer tend to keep it a secret in fear of what other people in their community might think. The more people speak about it, the more we can normalise getting a cancer diagnosis in the Asian community.

Being open about my breast cancer journey has also allowed me to reach women who can relate. I know how lonely cancer can feel and I cannot imagine going through it without the support from the Breast Cancer Now community and the community on social media. 

Was there an outfit or piece of clothing that empowered you the most?

During treatment, you’re having all your feminine features taken away, so I used to wear wigs, fill in my brows and brighten up my face with lipstick and clothes. It helped make me feel more confident. I’d buy fashionable turbans and wear them to my appointments. I remember at Christmas I wore a glittery silver one. 

What do you think about the outfit you are wearing in the campaign?

I love this outfit, it’s smart yet casual. I love the t-shirt, blazer and trainers look. Also, I can never find jeans that fit me like this, they are so comfortable!!

Tell us about yourself ...

My names Rebecca, I’m 30 years old from Nottingham and I was first diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 25.

When were you first diagnosed with breast cancer and how old were you at the time?

I was 25 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. I had a nine-month-old daughter and my breasts hadn’t gone back to normal but I never thought it was going to be breast cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and finished my treatment in 2015. 

Can you tell us about your secondary breast cancer diagnosis?

In 2018 I was feeling generally unwell, tired and nauseous. I went to my doctor think that it could be stress or anxiety. A blood test revealed that my living functioning was abnormal. After routine tests for six-eight weeks, they wanted to do an ultrasound. They noticed nodules in my liver, and I was sent for a CT scan. This was when I was told that the breast cancer cells had metastasised and in March 2019 I was diagnosed again.

What keeps you positive?

Obviously, a secondary breast cancer diagnosis is scary, but my children, partner and family keep me as positive as possible. Even though you don’t really know how long you have left you just need to enjoy it as much as you can.

What does it mean to be part of Breast Cancer Now’s Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign?

I wanted to take part in Fashion Targets Breast Cancer to make women aware that it doesn’t matter how old you are. Breast cancer can still affect you; it doesn’t discriminate.

What outfit or piece of clothing makes you feel good?

A good pair of jeans and a top are my go-to, but I do love getting dressed up for a night out.

What’s the one thing you want people to know?

Always check your breasts and go to your G.P. if you’re ever concerned. If you are going through breast cancer stay strong and always have a positive attitude. I’m a big believer in this and it’s how I live my life.

Over the next few weeks, you’ll be able to learn more about these amazing women and how you can help support Fashion Targets Breast Cancers life-changing care and world class research.