Asda Hull worker who begged doctors to keep her alive for her kids makes debut on catwalk

A long-serving Asda worker from Hull made her modelling debut to raise awareness of breast cancer care, after undergoing a mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Dannii, who has worked at Kingswood Asda in Hull for 24 years, begged doctors to keep her alive for her four children, after being diagnosed with cancer. Now, she has taken part in the annual Tickled Pink catwalk show alongside 26 other first-time models who have all gone through a breast cancer diagnosis.

She attended the show with her “rocks” throughout treatment – her husband Tony, who also works at the Kingswood store as a security guard, and her 22-year-old daughter Kimberley. Dannii has now had two clear mammograms with three to go and wanted to use the fashion show as a way to raise money and awareness of the disease.

Read more: East Yorkshire mum and her sister diagnosed with cancer six weeks apart hoping for the all-clear

Asda’s Tickled Pink campaign, which supports Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel!, is aimed at encouraging everyone – both men and women – to check themselves regularly for signs of cancer.

Dannii who has three other children – Bradley, 20, Liam, 14, and 13-year-old Charlotte – found her lump while having a shower. She said: “I asked my daughter, Kim, who was just 18, to feel it as by then my mind was running away with me. I also got Tony to check when he got home.

Dannii from Hull takes to the catwalk to raise money for breast cancer research
Dannii from Hull takes to the catwalk to raise money for breast cancer research

“He agreed there was something there and that I should make an appointment. I saw the GP a few days after. He said it felt like a cyst but due to me just turning 40 he made me an appointment at the breast clinic for a mammogram.

“When I saw the clinic doctor he also said it felt cyst like and sent me for my mammogram. This was then followed by an ultrasound, and I was told they were going to take a biopsy.

“I asked why as it was just a cyst and she replied, ‘it’s not a cyst, sweetheart it’s a lump’. I remember seeing Tony’s face drain of colour.”

She added: “When I came out, I had to sit back in the waiting room. I was trying so hard to keep my tears and emotions in check, but every nurse and Tony kept asking if I was alright. I wasn’t, but didn’t want to admit it.

“I got taken back to see the doctor and I asked, ‘Is it cancer?’ to which he replied yes. I cried my eyes out and tried to leave the room, but Tony stopped me. I said to the doctor ‘I have four children do whatever you need to do to keep me alive for them. Please’.

“I started chemotherapy and had six rounds. Kim became a second mum for my younger children Liam and Charlotte, and my son Brad helped with looking after my mum while Tony did lots of overtime and helped around the house.

“After chemo I then had a mastectomy with deep reconstruction using fat from my stomach to make a new breast. It all went well until a day later when the nurses checked it and the blood wasn’t getting through, so I had to go back under to save it.

“When I came round, they had taken a vein from my foot to try and save the breast but it didn’t work, so I underwent a mastectomy. I had 15 rounds of radiotherapy and have since had two clear mammograms with three to go!”

Of her big day on the catwalk, she said: “I felt so pampered and special. The outfits were beautiful and wish I could have kept them.

“All the make-up artists, hairdressers and runners were so nice and treated me like a model. Thank you for making me look fabulous too. I’m usually a jeans and T-shirt sort of person. I think the last time I wore a dress was at my wedding four years ago!

She said: “It was lovely meeting all the other models and hearing their breast cancer stories and I’ve made new lifelong friends. I met celebrities such as Anna Richardson, Trinny Woodall, Cherie Blair and Ben Ofoedu, who were all so nice, really down to earth and easy to talk to. I can’t thank Breast Cancer Now enough for choosing me to be one of their models, I felt like a true queen for the day.

“I feel honoured that out of the many colleagues and people that have breast cancer I was chosen by Asda to have this amazing opportunity of a lifetime. I found out about the show from our community champion Geoff Brown, who is a close friend of mine too. He said my story is amazing and needs to be heard, so I applied!”

Dannii said she was pleased to support Asda’s Tickled Pink campaign. She said: “Our partnership is helping to raise awareness and encouraging people to check themselves. I know it gets customers talking too and I feel also spreading the message by word of mouth is the best way forward to raise more awareness of breast cancer and the symptoms.”

Read next