WORLD CANCER DAY: How a special bond with her horse helped a Warwickshire mum cope with her cancer diagnosis

Clare Taylor Reeves’ special bond with her horse Frankie helped her cope with a devastating cancer diagnosis. She is now encouraging people to support World Cancer Day today (Monday) by wearing a ‘Unity Band’.

Any horse owner will tell you their four-legged friend is pretty special.

Clare and Frankie with her son Oscar and daughter Myla.

Clare and Frankie with her son Oscar and daughter Myla.

But for Warwickshire mum Clare Taylor Reeves, her horse Frankie is nothing short of a hero after helping her through months of tough cancer treatment. The 43-year-old had just bought the eight-year-old mare when she was diagnosed with an aggressive grade three breast cancer in April 2017. She said if it were not for Frankie nuzzling her and causing soreness, she may not have noticed the lump and been diagnosed so early.

Now a year on from treatment, Clare is urging people to show their support for Cancer Research UK by wearing a Unity Band on World Cancer Day, which is today (Monday, February 4).

By making a donation for a Unity Band, people can raise money for life-saving research which will help give people like Clare more precious time with their loved ones.

“I was completely shocked to be told I had cancer,” said Clare. “I’m young, I don’t drink or smoke and I’m vegetarian. As soon as I heard the word cancer my world changed in an instant.

Clare during her hospital treatment.

Clare during her hospital treatment.

“My first question was ‘am I going to die?’ The surgeon said ‘no, not on my shift!’”

Clare, who lives in a village near Leamington and Warwick, had first gone to her GP after noticing a lump between her chest and her shoulder.

She said: “I’d only had Frankie a week or so but she’d been nudging me a lot and I became quite sore.

“But I happened to notice a lump when I was feeling the soreness in the shower. I didn’t think it was anything to worry about but I made an appointment with my doctor just to be sure. He wasn’t concerned but he sent me to Warwick Hospital as a precaution.

Clare wearing a Unity Band with Frankie.

Clare wearing a Unity Band with Frankie.

“The surgeon reassured me it was most likely just a cyst. But when the ultrasound technician tried to put a needle into it I remember the look on his face changed in an
instant.”

Two weeks later Clare was diagnosed with a grade three breast cancer and told she needed surgery to remove the lump.

“Telling the children was the worst thing of all,” said Clare, mum to Myla, 7, and Oscar, 8.

“It was a horrible time but Frankie kept me focusing on life rather than the treatment. She’s pretty special to us.”

Following surgery to remove the lump, Clare was given the good news that the cancer had not spread to her lymph nodes.

But further tests soon revealed she had triple negative breast cancer which is not responsive to the some of the more successful hormone treatments available.

Clare underwent six months of chemotherapy with side effects including severe sickness and hair loss.

And in February last year, Clare opted to have both breasts removed followed by further surgery to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Clare is now hoping people support World Cancer Day by wearing a Unity Band.

The bands can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer, or in support of those going through treatment.

Clare added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work. Just by wearing a Unity Band, everyone can help make a real difference.”

Wear a band for World Cancer Day

Marked on February 4, World Cancer Day is designed to raise awareness of cancer and to promote its prevention, detection and treatment.

One in two people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime.

But thanks to research, more people are surviving than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.

The charity needs everyone to act to help speed up life-saving advances.

Paula Young, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the Midlands, said: “We’re very grateful to Clare for her support and showing how important it is for everyone to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day. It is a powerful accessory in the fight against the disease.

“We’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, but we can’t do it alone.

“By making a donation of just £2, people can help fund world-class cancer research to help more people, like Clare, survive. Together, we will beat cancer.”