A MOTHER-of-EIGHT who is battling breast cancer is planning a string of fundraising events as part of her quest to raise cash and awareness.

Claire Whiteley, 44, from Halstead, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the cancer in January last year after discovering a golf ball-sized lump on Christmas Eve in 2016.

Until then she had been volunteering for St Helena Hospice in Colchester and hopes to be able to return on a part-time basis once she is well enough.

Although Claire is not currently well enough to hold physical fundraising events she is determined to raise cash for Cancer Research UK and use her experience to help other potential sufferers.

Claire says the support of her family - and a lot of laughter - have helped her deal with the diagnosis. Her youngest child is six years old and her eldest is 25.

Claire said: “We’ve dealt with it with lots of laughter and a great deal of humour.

“We’re that type of family though. I tell the children that Mummy’s been bitten by shark where I’ve had a mastectomy because it goes right down to my belly button.

“It will be an interesting story for the grandchildren and I can deal with the scar.

“I was quite unlucky in that the cancer I was diagnosed with had spread and was very aggressive. The drugs I’m on are amazing but at the moment I can’t cook, let alone do anything like a sponsored run.

“So this is my way of giving something back because it’s so important that women, and men too, are aware of breast cancer.”

She has lined up eight of the events. The first will take place at Queen’s Hall in Halstead on Saturday, November 17, from 10am until 4pm.

It will see a range of stalls offering everything from cakes to new-age gifts and jewellery, while holistic treatments and advice about cancer will also be available.

Other fundraisers over the coming months will be held in Earls Colne, Great Saling and Great Dunmow.

All of the proceeds will go to Cancer Research UK.

To donate visit: fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/claires-giving-page-67.