A WOMAN whose world fell apart when she was diagnosed with cancer will now strut down the catwalk of a star-studded fashion show to inspire others battling the disease.

Sharon James said it was ‘devastating to hear those awful words: You have cancer’ in March last year.

But the 52-year-old has been selected to take part in the Breast Cancer Care annual fashion show in London in defiance against the disease.

Sharon, a patient at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, said: “I’m thrilled to be selected as a model. It’s light at the end of a dark tunnel. It’s an opportunity to say to others facing a breast cancer diagnosis that you can get the confidence to face the world and shine again.”

Sharon will share the stage with a group of 30 women and two men all affected by cancer and will be transformed from head to toe by a team of professional hair and make-up artists. The event will help raise funds to support the 62,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer every year.

Sharon, who runs her own personal development business, said: “After my diagnosis in March 2016 I had two surgeries, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and will be on hormone therapy for five to 10 years. The illness, particularly the chemotherapy side effects, knocked me for six.

“Life went on hold and it knocked my self-confidence. It is a mental and physical battle. I struggled with the physical toll. Appearance is important to me and the treatment was so brutal that I was physically changed. I cried so much when I lost my hair. You don’t want to seem vain but it matters. Also you are on an emotional roller coaster. I always tried to put a smile on it but some days I just couldn’t.

“Now I’ve finished my active treatment I’ve been focusing on building myself up. As part of this I wanted to give something back; so far I’ve raised over £1,000 and sold over 30 tickets for the event.

“The fashion show opportunity came up at just the right time – I found out I’d been chosen in the week of my one year scan, at a time where I’ve been focusing on facing forward. Don’t get me wrong, there are still very challenging days and will continue to be but I want to hit it head on. Walking down the catwalk feels like it’s going to be very symbolic.

“Everyone knows me for my love of sunglasses and high heels so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to say to others facing a breast cancer diagnosis that you can get the confidence to face the world and shine again.

“I’m so excited – if a bit nervous – about the catwalk but I’m doing it for the team who helped me get to where I am today. This is for me and for them – my husband, friends, family and caregivers.”

Emma Wicks, RBH breast cancer nurse specialist, said: "Sharon’s positivity will be a real inspiration to others currently receiving treatment. It’s not always easy to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and it can take time but Sharon is a great example to us all. We’ll be thinking of her on September 28 - she’s a true role model.”

To support Sharon go to justgiving.com/fundraising/struttingmystuffforbreastcancercare