A SKIPTON breast cancer sufferer has spoken of the ‘unexpected and invaluable’ friendship’ she struck up through a new campaign launched by Marks & Spencer.

In a new campaign for October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, M&S and Breast Cancer Now are showing how everyone can help someone, by sharing the real-life stories of 11 women affected by breast cancer, and the surprising and invaluable support they received, including the story of Vicky Ideson, from Skipton.

From finding friendships on Instagram to being comforted by an ex-husband’s new wife, the women sharing their stories have opened up about feelings of fear and confusion after being diagnosed and going through treatment, and the comfort they found in unexpected places.

Ms Ideson spoke about how she became best friends through the campaign with two women from Middlesbrough and South Wales before they even met.

She said: “ “I wanted to speak to someone who understood exactly how I felt. You want someone who can understand when you say “I’m really frightened that I’m going to die”. You try hard to protect the people around you by hiding how upset you are, which can be really lonely.

“I didn’t feel like I could be completely open about how I truly felt with my family, which is why I turned to Instagram. Losing your hair in your thirties – or at any age – is awful, but knowing I had two girls at the end of the phone who were going through the same thing helped.

“It can feel like you’re the only person in the whole world going through that.”

Her heart-warming story, and those of her friends, will be featured across signage in M&S stores, as well as on M&S.com and via social media. The campaign will highlight how everyone can help someone, whether it’s reaching out to a neighbour or colleague who has been affected by breast cancer or helping to fund world-class breast cancer research by donating through Sparks and selected M&S products.

During October, which is breast cancer awareness month, M&S will be donating 25 per cent from selected sleepwear products to help fund ground-breaking breast cancer research.

Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now said: “Despite the incredible progress in breast cancer research and care, breast cancer remains the most common cancer in the UK with around 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed with the disease every year.

“The stories of these 11 women remind us that whilst this devastating disease is impacting the lives of so many women, men and their families every day, it is the support of those around you that can make a real difference.

Laura Charles, lingerie director at M&S, added:“We know preventing breast cancer is a cause that’s important to both our customers and colleagues. These incredible women demonstrate the importance of support while going through breast cancer and the difference it can make.”

M&S and Breast Cancer Now have worked in partnership for over 18 years and in 2015, M&S pledged to raise a further £13m. The funds will help the charity understand why some women develop breast cancer while others don’t.