Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seema the Survivor; the North London Singer Was Shocked to Be Diagnosed at 32 but Cancer Research's New Poster Girl Was Determined to Fight Back

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seema the Survivor; the North London Singer Was Shocked to Be Diagnosed at 32 but Cancer Research's New Poster Girl Was Determined to Fight Back

Article excerpt

Byline: Susannah Butter

THE first thing I notice about Seema Jaya Sharma is her hair. As she says, you don't often see Indian women with peroxide blonde mohicans. It's one reason why people were drawn to her YouTube music video, Alive, made to thank those who took care of her, which has had more than 20,000 views. Not bad for a woman who used to be so scared of performing she'd run out of the room if asked to sing.

If you recognise Sharma it's because she is the face of Cancer Research UK's new campaign. The 35-year-old from Ilford is recovering from breast reconstruction surgery but "can't wait to get started again". This attitude is typical of the woman who used to go clubbing after radiotherapy appointments.

Sharma had always thought breast cancer only happened to women in their fifties. In October 2009 she was trying to set up an Indian clothing business, as well as bringing up her son and daughter with the help of her mother (she got married young in 1996 and separated when she was 23).

"There I was, 32. I hadn't considered cancer." She found the lump by chance. "My daughter, who was only two, knocked her head against my breast. I went to feel and found a lump." Luckily Sharma had a smear test booked the next day, otherwise she wouldn't have gone to the doctor. "A week later, my mother encouraged me to get the results so we could celebrate Diwali. I saw the word cancer on the paper and cried for a second. But then that was it. I was going to fight my hardest, irrelevant of what stage the cancer was at."

She went to the appointment alone, refusing her mother's company. "I don't think it's nice for any mother to go through that. When I told her I ended up consoling her. Then my son started wondering why his grandma was crying so much. How do you tell your child you've got cancer? …

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