Cancer survivor sets up charity talent contest

A FITNESS instructor who has endured 15 cancer-related operations has set up a talent contest to raise vital funds for research.

Kirsteen Ellis, a personal trainer who lives in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 32 years old.

Six years on she is currently in remission and now the 38-year-old is set to follow in the footsteps of Simon Cowell and Amanda Holden by staging her own talent show called ‘Has Suffolk Got Talent?’ tonight at Woolpit Village Hall.

She hopes the event will raise thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK’s breast cancer campaign.

Describing what happened to her, Ms Ellis said: “I found a lump after seeing a programme on television on how to check your breasts and subsequently was diagnosed with breast cancer.

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“I’ve been through a lot since then and am now more determined than ever to raise money to help Cancer Research UK.

“We’ve already got several great acts lined up and I’m hoping people will come along in their droves to support us.”

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Ms Ellis learned she had cancer in December 2005 and just two days before Christmas that year she was admitted to hospital for major surgery to have the a lump in her breast removed along with lymph nodes under her arm.

Six months of chemotherapy followed and, despite efforts to retain her hair, she awoke on Valentine’s Day to find most of her hair on her pillow.

“I dreaded that happening, but getting my head shaved was one of the best things I could have done,” said Ms Ellis, who was rushed to hospital towards the end of her chemotherapy treatment with a life-threatening infection.

“From the beginning, the consultants had my best interests at heart and were very much aware of my age and job.

“It was their decision to offer a full mastectomy and reconstruction and partial mastectomy and implant on my other breast and I wasn’t going to turn down a free boob job.

“The risk of the cancer recurring in my ovaries was so great that an oopherectomy [removal of an ovary or ovarian tumour] was considered a must. I was more than happy to give my consent. Since being diagnosed, I’ve undergone around 15 operations,” added Ms Ellis, who lives with partner James.

“I see it as a positive thing because, if it weren’t for research, then all that treatment may not have been possible. That’s why I’m determined to do my bit to raise both awareness and funds for breast cancer. The fact is that it can happen to anyone – age and lifestyle do not enter into the equation.”

Louise Cook, Cancer Research UK’s area volunteer manager for Suffolk and north Essex, said: “Kirsteen is an inspirational bundle of energy and we’re delighted that she has chosen to support us by staging ‘Has Suffolk Got Talent?’.

“We need everyone in Suffolk to ‘Join the fight for women’s survival’. Our research is beating breast cancer but we need you to help us fight harder. Every penny raised will help save more lives in the future.”

Tickets for ‘Has Suffolk Got Talent?’, which runs from 5-7pm and will be followed by a music evening from 8-l 11.30pm, are on sale priced at �5 to �8.

To buy tickets please e-mail: or call Kirsteen on 07913 088630. Tickets will also be available on the door.

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