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Mum conquers fear of heights to raise more than £1,000 for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity

11 months ago

Mum conquers fear of heights to raise more than £1,000 for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity
Hayley prepares to abseil down Liverpool Cathedral

A young mum conquered a fear of heights to say thank you to Clatterbridge Cancer Centre ‘for giving me my life back’.

Hayley Smith, 33, abseiled 150ft down Liverpool Cathedral and raised more than £1,000 for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity after receiving treatment for breast cancer.

She admitted the daredevil feat on Saturday took her way out of her comfort zone, She said:

“It was really nerve-racking walking up the stairs and reminding myself not to look down!  You don’t realise how high 150ft is, and when I got to the top I was really shaking. I wondered if I could actually do it… and I didn’t want to let go of the scaffolding.”

“I think adrenaline takes over and even though I’m scared of heights it was a really good experience which gave me a sense of achievement. I wanted to give something back to the people who had treated me and continue to treat me. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I panicked that I wouldn’t see my little girl grow up or go to school.

“But thanks to them I watched my daughter Alice enjoy her first year at primary and now hopefully there’ll be many more years for me to enjoy.  The cancer world can be a scary and lonely place, but my experience at Clatterbridge was anything but. The centre itself was welcoming, positive and calm with friendly and knowledgeable staff, and they made my cancer journey easier to navigate.”

Hayley and James with Alice
Hayley and James with Alice

Hayley, a civil servant from Winstanley, near Wigan, was just 31 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2020.

“I’d found a lump in my left breast while in the shower and, although it was thought it would be a cyst, they found an 8cm tumour. It was a massive shock because I was so young and there isn’t cancer in my family. I think I was naïve and thought people in their 50s and older got it, not people my age. 

“At first I thought I wouldn’t see Alice, who was two turning three – she’s now five – grow up and I was frightened.  That first night after being diagnosed just before Christmas I cried and cried. But the next day I just thought, I’m not going to let this beat me.  Alice, and my husband James, kept me going.”

Hayley first had chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before having a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery at Whiston Hospital in July 2021. Once she had healed, she underwent three weeks of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge at Aintree, and is now undergoing preventative hormone therapy to stop the cancer coming back.

“Although I had treatment at different hospitals it was all under the care of Clatterbridge and the staff were amazing. Because it was during lockdown I had to go for most of my treatment on my own – although my dad would drive me there and wait outside in the car – and it was hard, especially those first times of chemo when you don’t know what to expect. It was hard going through it without the support that you usually have, but the staff were so friendly and put me at my ease.”

“When I was first diagnosed I raised £3,000 by doing Brave the Shave for Macmillan and the Little Princess Trust which provides real hair wigs for children and young people with cancer.  But I wanted to do something for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity too, and when I saw the abseil, that was it. I wasn’t sure how much I’d raise because you’re asking the same people to donate again so I set my target at £150.  But to raise over £1,000 was great.”

Hayley Smith
Hayley Smith

Hayley adds:

“Raising money for Clatterbridge was all about saying thank you to everyone who cared for me during my treatment. They have given me back my life and time with my husband and my little girl, and my family. I haven’t got any more feats planned but I’d like to raise more money for research and to help other people facing cancer, so who knows what I might do in the future. Having cancer makes you appreciate life and value more than ever what you have. I’m determined to make the most of it.” 

Find out more about the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on their website

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