Dreams of starting a family were on the horizon for dancer Victoria Eames until the results of a routine smear test stopped her life in its tracks.
The 32-year-old, who has been with her partner James for nearly two years, was told she had stage one cervical cancer in October and needed a radical hysterectomy that meant she would not be able to have children of her own.
After going under the knife to have all but her ovaries removed in early December, she was declared cancer-free days before Christmas and is now slowly getting back to full health in the wake of what was a life-changing operation.
Supporting her along the way was best friend Jenah Colledge, 30, who has selflessly pledged to act as a surrogate mother for the couple.
Victoria, who runs Leeds-based entertainment company Pastiche Europe, is now planning for a bright future and is intent on warning women of the dangers of missing smear test appointments ahead of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week which starts tomorrow.
“Jen’s my lifeline and my option to be able to have a child,” she said.
“It’s a special thing, I can’t put into words what it means to me, it’s such a feeling of loss but then I feel I’ve gained something in some way.
“Being told I had cancer was the worst moment of my life – I was really, really lucky they found it when they did as if it had been any later it could have been a different story.
“There’s nothing more important than taking time to go to the doctors and getting your smear.”
Having spent the last month gradually becoming more mobile but not being able to dance, she and Jenah have been given the go-ahead by doctors to pursue surrogacy.
Victoria’s eggs would have to be frozen and an embryo would be created in a year’s time, when doctors are satisfied that the cancer has not returned following a series of three-monthly checks.
Jenah would then carry and give birth to the baby, which would be signed over to James and Victoria soon afterwards.
Jenah, who has a 12-year-old daughter called Grace, worked as a dancer with Victoria when she lived in Leeds and is now a student at the University of Sunderland.
She suggested the idea of surrogacy after seeing her friend face the reality of her diagnosis.
Jenah said: “As soon as I knew how serious it was I came up with the idea and when it did progress I stuck to my decision because it’s the right thing to do.
“Nine months out of my time is worth a lifetime of her happiness.”
Having been close friends for around nine years, Jenah found the initial news that Victoria had been diagnosed with cervical cancer heartbreaking and wanted to do all she could to help.
“I think we’ve always been close, we’ve become a lot closer as the years have gone by but we probably will be even closer after it’s happened,” she said.
“She [Victoria] said she wouldn’t want to do anything like this other than with one of her best friends – it’s an experience we’re going to share.”
Victoria, who lives with James in Whitwood, Castleford, is now dedicating her time to her close friends and family but could not help but get back to the job that she loves running Pastiche Europe. The company sends its performers such as dancers and stilt walkers all over Europe.
Despite this she did manage to spend her first Christmas and New Year with her family in 13 years.
The dancer, who trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, in Chapeltown, has also found time to organise a ‘Kind Hearts Give Back’ charity dinner at New Dock Hall at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on Sunday March 1 from 7pm.
The event will feature a three-course meal, auction and live entertainment in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, Cancer Research UK and local hospital trusts. So far firms including Bagel Nash and Stardrops have backed it as sponsors.
She added: “The first night I woke up after I was diagnosed I thought it was a bad dream and I started to think about the things that I haven’t done – the things I wanted to do and the people I wanted to see.
“I’ve learned to take more time for me, I love my job, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do but there has to be a balance now.”
For further information on the charity ball or to purchase tickets visit www.kindheartsgiveback.co.uk.