A BRAVE Bolton mum is backing a cancer campaign to help save more lives, as she prepares to enjoy a special Christmas thanks to research. Kirsty Naylor, from Westhoughton, faced a bleak Christmas in 2020 having been diagnosed with breast cancer just months earlier.

The mum-of-three went from organising the school run to scheduling her life around surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Now coming through the other side of treatment, Kirsty owes her life, in part, to the work of Cancer Research UK after being prescribed the drug tamoxifen.

The 35-year-old is backing their Play Your Part campaign and hopes by sharing her story, she can inspire people across Greater Manchester to make a difference. Kirsty booked a phone appointment with her GP in September 2020 after becoming aware of an issue with her right breast. As Kirsty was only aged 34 at the time, she wasn’t worried she could have cancer.

Due to strict Covid restrictions, Kirsty underwent an ultrasound and mammogram alone. Medics at The Royal Bolton Hospital told Kirsty the shock news that they were 95 per cent certain she had cancer. Further tests a week later confirmed this.

Kirsty had her right breast removed at the end of October and spent last Christmas feeling terrified of what was to come.

She began chemotherapy in February but reacted badly to the treatment, developing sepsis. She was often alone in hospital and became very weak.

Kirsty’s partner Dale Young, aged 46, rallied round to look after their three girls, Ella, 15, Evie, aged five, and four-year-old Eila She finished chemotherapy in May but then faced radiotherapy in July. Kirsty is still feeling the side effects of the chemotherapy now with back and leg pain which sometimes leaves her unable to walk.

Doctors say she will need annual mammograms and must take tamoxifen for the next decade. Cancer Research UK funded researchers helped prove the benefits of taking tamoxifen after surgery for women with the most common type of breast cancer. Eight in 10 women now survive for at least 10 years, thanks in part to this life-saving treatment.

She said: “When they told me I had breast cancer, I didn’t take in the news at first. But when I walked outside my legs turned to jelly.

"I couldn’t drive home and I had to get someone to come and pick me up from the hospital. I was in shock for some time. I felt sheer panic at telling my family the news. It was as though the whole experience was happening to someone else and not to me."

Her three girls have been "fantastic", she says, though it has been hard on her eldest daughter.

"My youngest two didn’t really know what was going on. They wanted to help and look after me. But were most concerned about me losing my hair," she added.

She has paid tribute to her husband Dale and her "amazing family" for their support.

Kirsty added: “I’ve been given the greatest gift of all – more precious moments with my loved ones. So, I hope people will donate this festive season and help give hope to many more families like mine."

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesman for the North West, said: “We are grateful to Kirsty and her family for their support. Cancer is relentless but so are we. We will never stop striving to find better treatments, but we can’t do it alone. Donate to support life-saving research online at cruk.org/donate