THE BLOG
08/11/2013 05:37 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

How A Dream Turned Into A £90 Million Breast Cancer Charity

Sometimes we make snap decisions, the importance and significance of which only becomes clear over time. But from that spontaneous beginning, Walk the Walk and our knowledge of breast cancer has come so far. Best of all, breast cancer is now on the brink of becoming a treatable disease.

I was talking with a good friend the other day. Although he's known me for many years, he didn't know how I started Walk the Walk, the breast cancer charity. 'Well, it was a dream,' I told him. 'Really?' he said - he didn't think I really meant it. But it was true. A dream I had one night in 1996 has now become a charity that has raised over £90million for breast cancer causes. And quite amazingly, I have since had to face breast cancer myself.

But back in the mid 1990s, my life was very different. I had a styling production company, and worked all over the world. One night in London I had a very funny dream; I was Power Walking the New York City Marathon, in a bra, to raise money for breast cancer! It was strange because I'd never wanted to do a marathon, had never done any fundraising for a charity, or even knew anyone with breast cancer. I certainly didn't think I was a candidate.

I believe we all have brilliant ideas every day but don't follow them up. But on this particular day that dream really made me giggle and I thought, 'I want to do this.' The truth be known, it sounded to me like a great weekend in New York that would also do some good for those with cancer. I got a group of people together who also thought it sounded absolutely bonkers but fun. New York was a huge success and we raised £25,000 between the 13 of us. I thought that was the end of my fundraising career - job done! I had no idea that this dream and the flippant decision to make it actually happen, would not only save my life, but become a multi million pound charity.

Only weeks after our New York escapade, I headed off to Arizona on a photoshoot. It was there, whilst in the shower, that my hand was drawn to a tiny lump on my breast. My gut feeling told me that something was seriously wrong and I saw a doctor the next day. After a mammogram and ultrasound, two days later I found myself in front of a consultant telling me that there was definitely something there. 'But I'm going to South Africa for work, can't I sort this out when I get back?' I asked. 'Oh no, you're going to cancel everything,' he replied. Those words tipped my world upside down.

I was in America, on my own, having found out I had breast cancer. I had become one of those people that I had been raising money for.

Within days of arriving home, I was in hospital having a lumpectomy, only to find that I had an aggressive tumour, and would need a mastectomy. I went into utter shock. So, to do something positive, my friends decided we should do another walk. One Sunday in April 1997, the 25-strong Walk the Walk Team completed the London Marathon, on Monday we held an exhibition and auction of all our designer bras, and, then on Wednesday I went in to hospital to have my breast removed. It was one of the most emotional rollercoasters that I have ever experienced.

A year later and we had an even larger team of 50 people wanting to Walk the Walk in the London Marathon. Unfortunately places were hard to find and begging and pleading with the marathon office had no effect. In frustration, I told them I'd organise my own marathon. 'You won't be able to use our route," they replied, to which I retorted, 'I don't want to use your route!" and put the phone down! Right, I thought, we'll set off at midnight, and like a relay, the last people will finish at 7am, when the London Marathon begins. Completely spontaneously, the MoonWalk had been born!

Since then, the annual MoonWalks have taken place in London, Edinburgh, Iceland and now New York. With all our other challenges, over 300,000 Walkers have taken part and raised in excess of £90 million for vital breast cancer causes - we've also helped a lot of people get fitter and healthier and had a huge amount of fun along the way.

Sometimes we make snap decisions, the importance and significance of which only becomes clear over time. But from that spontaneous beginning, Walk the Walk and our knowledge of breast cancer has come so far. Best of all, breast cancer is now on the brink of becoming a treatable disease.