Mum who had breasts removed writes book on her cancer helpline

October 19 2011

THE founder of a national helpline for women at risk of breast cancer has written an autobiography about the very personal reasons that prompted her to take action.

Wendy Watson's book, I'm Still Standing, tells the story of how she set up the National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline, which has supported more than 80,000 women.

And Wendy has written about her own experiences when, 18 years ago, she had both her breasts surgically removed in an effort to prevent her getting cancer.
 
Her genetic risk of developing the disease was incredibly high – with nine out of 12 women across three generations of her family having battled it.
 
Her daughter, Becky Measures, now aged 30, also had the same operation.
 
Wendy launched the helpline following surgery and it has now been running from her Derbyshire home for 15 years.
 
The publication of her book comes after she was named Mum Of The Year by Tesco magazine at the start of this year.
 
The 56-year-old, of Over Haddon, near Bakewell, said: "Given everything I've been battling, people have told me that Elton John's song, I'm Still Standing, should be my theme tune.
 
"Along with the surgery, there are all the issues I've been fighting since then, which mean that people at risk of breast cancer are unable to get tests and surgery."
 
She said many people had encouraged her to write a book about her experiences,
 
"I did a lot of the writing last winter because I was snowed into the house on my own for a week," she said. "I couldn't get out of the front door. I enjoyed writing it and I tried to make it comical.
 
"Apparently it's extremely easy to read. A lot of people have told me they can't put it down."
 
Publishing house Simon & Schuster gave Wendy a £6,000 advance, which she used to help set up 32 support groups around the country.
 
These are for women who are concerned about breast cancer in their families or have been ill themselves.
 
She said: "We had a residential training weekend and I used the money to pay for that. I needed to cover costs like everybody's travelling expenses. I don't know if there will be any proceeds from the book, I've probably had all of the money that I'm going to get out of it."
 
And she added that there would not be a support group in Derbyshire, as it was already well-served by her and Becky.
 
She said: "We're meeting people all the time who ask for our advice or support."

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