"She was fierce" - one woman's inspiration for gracing the Keeping Abreast catwalk
PUBLISHED: 15:42 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 03 October 2018
A group of inspirational women are preparing to fight not only cancer but the isolation and grief it can cause, live on stage.
The two-day Keeping Abreast fashion event will unite 24 brave women on the Norwich Open stage to fundraise and celebrate their journey through breast reconstruction.
Forty-five-year-old Helen Wilson, from Beccles, was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago and said the charity helped her create a support network through the shared experience.
While in hospital she met 34-year-old Ami Powell and the pair quickly bonded.
Mrs Wilson said: “We were admitted on the same day, had surgery the next day and were inpatients side by side in bed together.
“Going through treatment can be lonely and it’s easy to feel isolated. It’s lovely to meet up with other women and find similarities and share stories. We already have something in common so it’s easy to make friends.”
In 2016 Ms Powell took a defiant stand against the disease in the Keeping Abreast fashion show and although Mrs Wilson was too sick to join her, she said the pride she felt as an audience member was overwhelming.
She added: “I came away feeling on such a high, I was so proud of her. I clapped until my hands were sore.”
Two years later Mrs Wilson has finished treatment and is in the final stages of breast reconstruction.
Inspired by the success of Ms Powell’s previous appearance, the pair were preparing to storm the stage together in this year’s event.
However tragedy struck weeks before the show when 37-year-old Ms Powell suddenly lost her cancer battle.
Determined not to let the disease undermine her friend’s strength, Mrs Wilson said she would not miss the show and was drawing courage from her memories with Ami.
She said: “I’m doing the show in memory of my dear friend.
“It helps remembering how strong Ami was, especially doing the show because I know she’s been through the same.
“She was fierce - I can hear her in my head. She would tell me ‘you chose to do this and it’s going to be stressful but you’re going to have an amazing time’.
“It is going to be emotional but she’ll be up there with us.”
Shows start at 7.30pm on Wednesday October 3 and Thursday October 4.
Buy tickets here.