Stevie plans an Arctic adventure

Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Fighting cancer is hard for anyone, at any age. So Stevie Webb, who is just 28, would be easily forgiven for wrapping herself up at home and resting. But that is not Stevie’s style.

The call centre worker is undergoing gruelling treatment for the most aggressive form of breast cancer – yet is still planning to travel across the Arctic for charity on a sled pulled by huskies.

Stevie Webb

Stevie Webb

Stevie, from Emsworth, is passionate about horses and, as soon as she was well enough she was back in the saddle preparing to compete in dressage and showjumping competitions.

She is indomitable. Laughing, she agrees, saying: ‘Some people might call me crazy but I like to do things that are a little bit out there.

‘The husky trail is going to be a massive challenge but I’m really excited. I love dogs.’

Stevie found a lump on her breast after returning from holiday in Dubai last July.

She says: ‘I went to the doctors the very next day, but they sent me away and said there was nothing to worry about.

‘I wasn’t happy about it so I went back a week later and they referred me to the hospital for a check-up.

‘Even at the hospital the consultant wasn’t that concerned because I’m so young. I had a scan, an ultrasound and a needle biopsy and had to wait 10 days for the results.

‘I was shocked when they told me I had breast cancer. Not only that but it was grade three, the most aggressive.

‘Fortunately I’d caught it very early so I had a lumpectomy on July 22.

‘Luckily it had not spread to my lymph nodes. I was still at stage one but it can spread very quickly.

‘I had to spend two weeks in bed after the operation, which was horrible for me because I’m so active.’

Stevie endured seven months of chemotherapy and has one week left of radiotherapy.

She took part in a trial of a procedure called the oncotype test. It measures how likely a patient is to get a recurrence of the cancer.

The scale is one to 30. ‘I was 51,’ says Stevie.

‘It was actually off the scale.

‘That meant I had to have further treatment to try to stop it coming back.’

But that didn’t knock the smile off her face. Instead she felt relieved for having had the test.

‘Everyone says I’m so upbeat. But I am a naturally positive, upbeat person.

I’m always very bubbly and I’ve tried to keep going in the same way I always do.

‘I’ve just started competing in showjumping and dressage again. I ride a horse called Baby for a friend. I got back in the saddle in August, as soon as I could. I’m not one to hang around.

‘Riding is 100 per cent emotional and physical therapy.

‘A lot of people have said to me, “I don’t know how you stay so happy”.

‘It’s because I’ve always got something to look forward to. Without that I don’t think I would be as happy.

‘I don’t know what it is about horses, but when you’ve got a strong bond with a horse it’s like having a child. It makes me smile.’

Two days before her surgery last summer, Stevie and a big group of friends took part in the Race for Life.

She says, ‘I don’t want to be treated any different. I can’t stand the thought of people feeling sorry for me or making allowances. If you look at me you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with me – apart from the fact I don’t have any hair.’

Stevie’s hair came out 10 days after her first chemotherapy session.

But she took it in good spirits. Her friends videoed her having it shaved off.

‘We were giggling the whole time. It made it really funny.’

She has even had a photoshoot done with before and after photos.

Stevie lives with her younger brother Shane and the two are extremely close.

For Christmas he wrote her a beautiful poem and had it put on to a picture.

Her mum, Sarah Gutteridge, is justifiably proud of her brave daughter.

The 48-year-old, who lives in Dubai, says: ‘To say I’m proud is an understatement.

‘It’s every mother’s worst nightmare to hear their daughter has cancer.

But Stevie was the strong one. When we were falling apart, she was reassuring everyone that she would be fine.

‘She stressed that she didn’t want to be treated any different and wanted life to carry on as normal as possible.

‘That is what she did. She carried on being the caring daughter, sister, grand-daughter and friend that she is, still helping others whenever possible.

‘She still pursued her love of all things equestrian. Quite frankly, she is an inspiration.

‘Even when she felt dreadful, which was most of the time during chemo, she dragged herself up and got on with life, showing such strength and determination.

‘Stevie has endured such a dreadful journey so early in her life.

‘But she has done it with such determination and so very many smiles, even through the tears and pain.’

Arctic adventure

Stevie Webb has travelled all over the world and, despite still going through radiotherapy, she is already planning her biggest adventure to date – dog sledding from Norway to Sweden for the charity Against Breast Cancer.

Before becoming ill Stevie would hit the gym four times a week. She has no worries that her fitness levels will be back by March 2016 when her adventure begins. Her only concern is the cold.

‘We’ve been warned it’s going to go down to minus 20 degrees,’ says Stevie. ‘That’s going to be the worst bit.’

Stevie will be raising money for Action Breast Cancer.

She adds: ‘It has been a long and tough journey with its ups and downs but I have been fighting hard to get to the other side.

‘I have been lucky to have lots of support from family, friends and the four-legged creatures.

‘I have chosen Against Breast Cancer because it is obviously very close to my heart.

‘It is a fantastic charity and I would love everyone’s support. Every penny counts.’

Action Breast Cancer is dedicated to funding research to improve detection and increase survival after diagnosis.

Its scientists use one of the UK’s largest collections of patient samples to look for information that could identify the spread of breast cancer.

Stevie needs to raise £4,000 for the trip. If you would like to sponsor her go to justgiving.com/stevie-webb.