Lancashire

#challengeaccepted: Cancer survivor attacks Facebook 'fakes'

Rebecca Wilkinson with her two children Connie and Freddie during her chemo treatment which also left her needing eyebrow tattoos. Image copyright Rebecca Wilkinson
Image caption Rebecca Wilkinson with her two children Connie and Freddie during her chemo treatment

A cancer survivor has criticised a new trend for cancer awareness photos on Facebook as "fake".

Rebecca Wilkinson, 36, who has undergone a double mastectomy, dismissed the craze for posting black and white "selfies" with the phrase "#challengeaccepted".

In response, the 36-year-old from Lancaster posted a photo of herself following surgery to show the reality of breast cancer, The Huffington Post reported.

The mother-of-two was diagnosed with Stage 2b breast cancer in 2013.

Ms Wilkinson, who has had reconstructive breast surgery, was told there was an 80% chance of her breast cancer returning.

She later had her ovaries removed after tests found there was a 60% chance of her developing ovarian cancer.

Ms Wilkinson told the BBC: "This latest craze just makes me mad.

Image copyright Rebecca Wilkinson
Image caption Rebecca posted the photo on Facebook and Instagram

"Having cancer is scary, knowing you could die and be taken from your children.

"It is not the subject for some fake selfies as if it's some fun activity.

"People think just because they stick a black and white photo on Facebook they are supporting people with cancer.

"They are not supporting people with cancer - they should really visit people in hospital with cancer or hold their hand while they're going through the trauma of chemo.

"It's just so fake and these people are narcissists."

Her own internet post read: "Everyone on Facebook is aware of cancer, so you cannot play the awareness card. Particularly as this time it's not even a *type* of cancer. You're not raising money. You're not showing support either."

Inherited breast cancer

Ms Wilkinson, who also has bipolar disorder, was found to carry a BRCA1 gene mutation. Her own mother Sheila died aged 43 from breast cancer.

Hollywood film actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy after tests revealed she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer because she too carried a similar gene mutation.

There is a 50% chance that Ms Wilkinson's two children Connie, eight, and six-year-old Freddie might carry a BRCA1 gene mutation, but they will have to wait until they are 18 to be tested.

She added: "Having cancer is scary, knowing you could die and be taken from your children.

"It is not the subject for some fake selfies as if it's some fun activity."

Image copyright Rebecca Wilkinson
Image caption Rebecca has now given up her teaching career

The #challengeaccepted trend was very popular in India early in the summer and arrived in the UK last week.

Not all cancer sufferers share Rebecca's view of the trend.

Grandmother Jean Haines, 72, of Heald Green, Greater Manchester, who has had breast cancer twice, said: "I think any support for cancer sufferers is welcome.

"It can be such a frightening time... it's nice people are thinking of those suffering from this terrible disease."

Cancer charities approached by the BBC declined to comment.

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