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Support group praises Starlight Walk

PUBLISHED: 18:12 04 May 2010 | UPDATED: 10:14 02 July 2010

Matthew Sparkes

A woman who founded a group to help cancer survivors through breast reconstruction after her own battle with the disease has praised the fundraisers behind the Starlight Walk.

A woman who founded a group to help cancer survivors through breast reconstruction after her own battle with the disease has praised the fundraisers behind the Starlight Walk.

The 13-mile hike around Norwich's ring road is expected to attract hundreds of walkers on June 18 and raise thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support to be spent within Norfolk.

And it is that money which will trickle down to grass roots support groups such as Keeping Abreast.

Last year Macmillan gave over £4,000 in grants to self help and support groups in the county, raised through events such as the Starlight Walk.

Co-founded by Beverley Birritteri and supported by grants from Macmillan, Keeping Abreast helps women through traumatic breast-reconstruction surgery.

It was given an initial £300 grant when it was founded in September 2007 to print leaflets, which helped them to attract 30 women to their very first meeting.

They now have over 300 members and have received over £5,000 of help from Macmillan for everything from training to transport.

“We haven't been going very long, there's obviously a need for it,” she said.

“When we first started, Macmillan were great. Without them it would've been far more difficult. They really have supported us and helped us so much.

“We would've had a far harder time and I don't think we would've done as well as we have so far.”

Miss Birritteri was diagnosed with breast cancer herself in June 2006 and had reconstruction surgery in July.

“It was rather a whirl and you don't have any time to think about it,” she said, and added that it was her own experience which led to her creating Keeping Abreast.

She said that it was down to the “fantastic” efforts behind fundraising events like the Starlight Walk that Macmillan had the budget to help groups such as hers.

“If people like that hadn't done that we would've had so much difficulty starting the group, and we wouldn't have been able to help as many women as we have.”

Are you taking part in the Starlight Walk? Tell us why by calling Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439, or email matthew.sparkes@archant.co.uk

For more information on the Starlight Walk or to register to take part, visit www.starlightwalknorwich.co.uk, or call 01603 593779

To see more coverage on the event visit the Evening News at www.eveningnews24.co.uk/starlight

The group holds support sessions every other month in Kings Lynn and Norwich and one in Cromer every three months, which together have over 300 members.

The sessions provide an opportunity for cancer sufferers to meet other women facing the same issues and talk to people who have recently gone through surgery.

They also arrange for volunteer “flashers” who have been through reconstruction themselves who can show women the results of their surgery.

And the group even provides free bras for women after their surgery.

“It's very expensive right at the beginning because you go through a lot of bras in different bra sizes,” said Miss Birritteri.

For more information about Keeping Abreast and their support sessions visit www.keepingabreast.org.uk

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