Bald in the face of adversity: Hair-shave challenge to support cancer-stricken Kate

James Pearce had his beard and head shaved in support of partner Kate Swanston at Kings Langley by hairdresser Trudi Bradley
James Pearce had his beard and head shaved in support of partner Kate Swanston at Kings Langley by hairdresser Trudi Bradley

A mother whose world was rocked when she discovered she had breast cancer has her 23-month-old daughter to thank for catching the life-threatening condition at an early stage.

Kate Swanston, of Adeyfield, Hemel Hempstead, says she was in total shock to discover a lump in her breast was in fact cancerous – and growing.

Kate Swanston with daughter Isabelle Pearce

Kate Swanston with daughter Isabelle Pearce

At just 32 years old, Kate admits she had never considered the possibility of developing breast cancer, especially as she has no genetic history of the illness and was generally fit and healthy.

She did not regularly check herself for lumps, and it was only when her toddler daughter Isabelle jumped up on her and elbowed the growth that she realised something wasn’t right.

Kate said: “I’m forever grateful to her for jumping on me as I would never have found it without her. I think she’s a miracle – she’s my little angel.”

The family support has continued for Kate since her diagnosis in November, as she and partner James Pearce now aim to raise money for research into the condition, as well as encourage other young women who may not think they’re at risk to check their breasts for abnormalities.

Kate embarked on a course of chemotherapy last month, and James has taken the bold step of shaving off all the hair on his body – with the exception of only his eyebrows! – in support of her as she goes through the gruelling 18-week ordeal.

James aimed to raise £250 for Breast Cancer Care, but has already quadrupled the target with pledges from more than 60 donors and funds still flooding in.

Kate, who begun losing her own her 16 days after she started chemotherapy treatment, added: “He looked like he could belong in a forest before as his hair was quite long and his beard was ridiculous – it is quite a drastic difference.

“James has been so supportive – it is not just me that the cancer has affected, it’s my whole family, but everyone has really rallied round.

“It’s something that you just don’t think will happen to you – I’m an example of that – but you just never know.

“In 90% of cases a lump is nothing serious, but for me it was a massive shock.

“I want to raise awareness among younger women that it is important to check yourself.”

For more on Kate’s story and to donate, visit