Colin Taverner is taking on this year’s Tour de Manc and cycling 100 miles for Prevent Breast Cancer. In our latest blog, he tells us about his wife’s devastating diagnosis and his hope for a breast cancer free future.

On 29th December 2022, my wife Mandy received the news that she had breast cancer.  She’d noticed a subtle visual change on one of her breasts and consulted with her GP in mid-December. The GP didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about but referred her to the breast clinic at Leeds St James’ Hospital, just to be on the safe side.  As it turned out, both Mandy’s attentiveness to her own body and the GP’s decision to get a second opinion proved to be crucial. It was subsequently confirmed that there was a small, cancerous tumour. Lymph node biopsies suggested it probably hadn’t spread very far; it had been spotted early.

Due to transmission to the lymph nodes, Mandy opted to go with chemotherapy, as well as the mastectomy surgery, to give her the peace of mind that she had done everything available to attack the cancer cells inside her body.

Following that, we embarked on a quite surreal and punishing journey through 2023 that, for Mandy, entailed 7 mammograms, 3 biopsies, 2 operations, 12 days as an in-patient over 3 visits, 12 rounds of chemotherapy over 18 weeks and 35 days of self-administered injections.

When I look back, to be honest, it all feels a bit surreal. Mandy and I are quite pragmatic people and so we took it one step at a time, and just got on with what needed to be done, but it wasn’t easy. There are memories and images that will be forever in our minds, that we wish weren’t.

I feel grateful that we had such good, attentive care from the teams at St James’ Hospital that looked after Mandy. And I am so, so grateful that Mandy was attentive and went to her GP. These factors resulted in the tumour being identified early, which makes such a difference to treatment and outcomes.

My two key pieces of advice for supporting someone through a breast cancer diagnosis:

  • You have to accept that you cannot know the full journey from the outset and that treatment plans will be determined step by step as each round of tests, biopsies and results are known.  As someone who likes to be able to ‘read the map’, this took a lot of adjusting to as no one could tell us what all the steps in the journey would be; just what the next step would be and what information would be gathered to determine the next step after that.  Initially, that was quite frustrating because we just wanted to know where we were going but we quickly learned that’s not possible, and you have to patiently take it a step at a time.
  • Be prepared for life to take some twists and turns with some overnight hospital stays.  Mandy’s temperature suddenly spiked 3 times during chemotherapy, which resulted in a trip to the hospital and her being admitted for 3-4 days each time, without warning, and put on IV antibiotics. The first time it happened, we naively popped along to hospital, expecting her to be checked over and discharged – we quickly learned to take an overnight bag when this happened, because it saves a lot of chasing around!!

Having supported Mandy through her surgery and treatment, seeing the effect it had on her and her body and the ongoing implications for her, I wanted to do ‘my bit’ to contribute to the goal of finding ways to prevent others having to undertake that same journey – a journey that I would not wish on anyone.

So, on 5th May 2024, I will take part in the Tour de Manc, taking on the 100-mile route, to fundraise for Prevent Breast Cancer.

I’m a keen social/leisure road cyclist, but nothing too serious. I love being out in the countryside on my bike and I love setting myself challenges from time to time.  I’m fortunate to live in Lower Wharfedale in Yorkshire and so we are blessed with some amazing scenery and a good smattering of hills on our doorstep.  A typical ride for me is 30-40 miles on a Sunday morning with around 2000-3000 feet of climbing, so the Tour de Manc with 7500 ft of climbing will be an interesting challenge! I did the 80-mile Tour de Yorkshire back in 2019, so hopefully I’ll be able to rise to this challenge, too. It’s been pretty wet this winter, but I’ve tried to ride whenever possible, and plan to stretch out to 60-80 miles over the coming weeks, to make sure I’m ready.  I’m a ‘big lad’, so I’m not quick up the hills, but I’ve got good stamina, and so I’m sure I’ll be fine, without setting any records!

Thankfully, all Mandy’s treatment has been successful and we’re looking forward to having a more ‘normal’ year in 2024, with some much-missed trips in our VW Campervan planned.

Wouldn’t it be lovely to live in a world where cancer wasn’t a thing? A world where no one has to go through what Mandy had to. That would be a nice place to be.

Thanks so much to Colin for sharing his story with us today.

If you too would like to put the brakes on breast cancer, there’s still time to join Colin and snap up a coveted spot in this year’s Tour de Manc.

With 4 distances to choose from, there’s something for all abilities. Find out more and sign up today.

Published On: March 19th, 2024 /

Would you like to share your story?

We’re always looking to speak to people who are interested in sharing their story and experience of breast cancer. It not only helps us spread awareness but can be helpful for others who are dealing with the disease. If this is a cause close to your heart and you would be comfortable sharing your journey with other supporters, and potentially the media, then please get in touch today by emailing

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About Prevent Breast Cancer

Prevent Breast Cancer is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer – we’re committed to freeing the world from the disease altogether. Unlike many cancer charities, we’re focused on preventing, rather than curing. Promoting early diagnosis, screening and lifestyle changes, we believe we can stop the problem before it starts. And being situated at the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK, we’re right at the front-line in the fight against the disease. Join us today and help us create a future free from breast cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, email us today.