A MOTHER who has battled breast cancer for the last 12 months will take part in a massive sailing challenge to raise awareness of the disease.

Dennise Shepherd, of Belgrave, near Eccleston, Chester, will be part of a crew aboard the Breast Cancer Care charity boat in the JP Morgan Asset Management Sail Time Round the Island Race on Saturday, June 19.

Volunteers from four nominated charities will tackle the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight on identical Beneteau Oceanis yachts.

Dennise, 43, was diagnosed with cancer last year and has undergone eight months of intensive treatment at Wrexham Maelor Hospital's Shooting Star Unit.

Having relied on the information and advice from Breast Cancer Care during her treatment, she was eager to be able to give something back.

She has already managed to raise more than £4,000 for the charity.

She said: “Being diagnosed with breast cancer was a total shock to me, there was no family history and at 43 surely I was too young.

“Every time I went for an appointment I had a million questions. I needed information and I needed to know what that information actually meant in terms of what was happening to me.”

She added: “I looked at each stage of treatment one at a time. The leaflets and information produced by Breast Cancer Care meant I could read up on the next stage before my next appointment and ask informed questions. Having that source of trusted information was invaluable.”

In the year before her diagnosis Dennise had become a dinghy sailor, learning the ropes at Gresford Sailing Club on The Flash and winning the club’s Endeavour trophy as the most improved sailor.

She said her illness dashed any hopes she had of building on her success last summer but after seeing the race published in the charity’s newsletter she wanted to get involved.

Dennise said: “When I saw it in the newsletter I knew it was something I would like to do and I am really, really looking forward to everything about it. I hope there is plenty of wind as it will be such an adrenaline rush and being around all the other boats and the sheer spectacle will be incredible.”

To give support go to http://original.justgiving.com/ denniseshepherd

As one of Britain's largest participation sporting events, some 16,000 sailors on about 1,700 boats are set to take part in the race, organised by the Island Sailing Club.