CLAIR Beswick knows better than anyone what the face of cancer looks like.
The brave mum, who lost her daughter, Lily, to the disease at the age of 21 months, has joined forces with other mums to launch their own take on the #nomakeupselfie craze sweeping social network sites across the country.
Mrs Beswick wants people to see the real bravery those battling cancer — and their families — go through on a daily basis.
Now they have created a Facebook group showing harrowing images of their youngsters as they were diagnosed, went through treatment and bravely battled cancer on the oncology ward at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital — where Lily was treated until she died in 2012.
Mrs Beswick, of Capitol Close, Smithills, said she was initially upset when people started posting the “no make-up selfies”.
She added: “I’ll admit I didn’t like it at first. I just found it quite self-indulgent. All that kept popping up was: ‘Here’s my no make-up selfie to help save lives through Cancer Research.’
Then there were all the comments below like: ‘You still look great hun.’
“But really, just putting a picture of yourself on Facebook isn’t saving anyone’s life. It might raise some awareness but it doesn’t save lives — it didn’t save Lily’s life.
“Of course, raising £8 million is not to be sniffed at and it will do a lot of good, but I admit — initially I was quite upset.”
Yet Mrs Beswick was not alone in her distaste for the Facebook trend and discovered other parents of youngsters with cancer felt the same.
She said: “I posted a comment on one of the Facebook groups and then a photo of Lily and me when she was in hospital.
“I wrote that I had no make-up on because everyday is a no make-up day when you’re a mum caring for a child with cancer.
“I didn’t touch it for months or have my hair done when Lily was poorly — I was lucky if I had time for a shower. It was never a priority because I was thinking about the next lot of medication or whether she had eaten.
“And that’s what the other mums were saying. You’re just so consumed by them getting better you don’t think of anything else.”
The Facebook group — called ‘Faces of Ward 84’ — has been created by fellow mum Eleanor Massey and attracted more than 2,000 “likes” in the first 24 hours of going live.
The group is planning to raise awareness of other vital services involved in cancer care such as donating blood, platelets and bone marrow as well as Macmillan support.
Cancer fighter Katie Dodd, aged five from Farnworth, is also featured on the Facebook page.
Her mum, Rebecca Dodd, said: “All of the parents on ward 84 support each other — which is why we’ve contributed to the new Facebook page.
“Words cannot describe how tough it is when you’re caring for a child with cancer and unless you’ve been through it, you can’t understand what it’s like. And that’s how it should be. I would never wish the experience on anybody.
“I can almost under-stand why people might not want to look at photographs of poorly children, because it is so upsetting. But that’s the reality for us.
“I’ve never met some of the other mums in person, quite often we just chat through Facebook. They know exactly what you’re going through.”
Katie is now recovering from the tumour on her spine that left her unable to walk.
To see the Facebook group, search: “Faces of Ward 84”.