Cancer survivors take to the catwalk for charity

Emma Hayter
Emma Hayter

Two people from Crawley will be joining other cancer survivors in a fashion show to help raise money for The Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre.

Emma Hayter and Graham Slade will be taking to the catwalk at The Hawth Theatre on Wednesday, June 29 night as part of an evening of fashion, music, dance and shopping.

Graham Slade

Graham Slade

The evening is in aid of the Olive Tree Cancer Support Centre, a small independent charity which provides a wide range of free support services to local people affected by cancer.

Emma, an occupation special educational needs and disability caseworker from Maidenbower got involved after attending the Olive Tree’s AGM last year.

She said: “It was at the AGM that I saw the importance of fundraising and donations in order to keep the Olive Tree running and providing its valuable resources. It was following this meeting I volunteered to be a model, I feel so appreciative of the support I have received from the Olive Tree that now it’s my turn to give something back.”

The 34-year-old was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer, known as adenocarcinoma in July 2013.

Subsequent to this, Emma underwent major surgery using a Da Vinci robot to perform a trachelectomy (removal of my cervix and surrounding tissues) and lymphadenectomy to remove all of her pelvic lymph nodes.

She added: “Since the initial diagnosis I have undergone eight operations and procedures, including a scare of recurrence along the way.

“With a diagnosis at the age of 31 I felt isolated and alone, I didn’t know of anybody remotely close to my age who had experienced a diagnosis - not that I would wish it on anybody. A few months into my cancer journey I discovered the Olive Tree after searching for a local support group. It has been an absolute lifeline.”

The Olive Tree also provides an array of complementary therapies, workshops and classes. Over the last three years Emma has taken part in yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, cancer survivorship programme, massages, reflexology, reiki and kinesiology workshops and she is soon to attend the Penny Brohn-Living well with cancer two day course offered at the Olive Tree.

She said: “Knowing that all of the staff and therapists are working within a cancer support centre helps me feel comforted and confident that I am understood.

“The work that they do is truly amazing.

“Everything the Olive Tree has offered has enabled me to re-evaluate my lifestyle and reflect on the importance of life.”

Graham, from Maidenbower, was diagnosed in July 2015 with bladder cancer. He had intensive Chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before undergoing surgery in December 2015 which removed his bladder.

The 50-year-old, who is retired after 32 years of service with London Underground as a station supervisor, said: “I first ventured into The Olive Tree in July 2015 after my diagnosis and was immediately put at ease by kindness of the staff during my visit and while I have a great family support network it was nice to talk to someone else.

“I ran into difficulties in February when i got very low and I visited The Olive Tree to see if i could have the benefit from counselling which was arranged and I had 10 session during which time I managed to get myself in a more positive frame of mind which in turn helps my family by not worrying about me.”

The fashion show is Graham’s first venture in helping The Olive Tree and he doesn’t think it will his last.

Tickets for the fashion show are £12.50 and the evening starts from 6.30pm

Visit for more information.

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