My mum will always be my biggest inspiration. I never knew the woman who didn't have to wake up to face cancer every day (she was diagnosed a few months after I was born). But, when I look back on our time together, I don't think about her illness. I think about how smart, beautiful and amazingly talented she was. I think about the fact that her artwork was so great it should have made it into a gallery. I think about the time we went to the midnight launch of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book on a cruise and both raced to finish it by the end of the holiday. I think about the wonderful stories she invented and her talent for figuring out the murderer on Marple (a talent that my boyfriend is annoyed to see I have inherited)!

Mum showed us so much love and never asked for anything in return. To therefore lose her at such a young age was incredibly difficult for me. I would say I haven't really coped until now. I struggled with school work and friends and my health took a turn for the worse. People said it was those wonderful teenage hormones, but I knew it was more than that. I hated the whispers in the classroom and the complaints from kids when I couldn't complete my homework (because I never got into trouble). Things then got worse at university as I spent more time on my own and distanced myself from people on my corridor. I felt trapped and boxed in and it was only when I looked up the symptoms of depression that I recognised myself in the words staring back at me.

It is only now, having shaved my head, that I feel like I am coping once more. The whole experience has been so freeing for me. I wanted to do something to celebrate her birthday and show support for not just my mum and my boyfriend's mum (both lost hair to cancer) but for all those facing cancer treatment.

When I decided to do the shave back in November it was just words (the birthday was still far enough away). Friends had previously joked about whether I'd cut my hair short and asked how much I'd do it for. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, why not? Then, as the date drew closer, it all became so real.

The experience itself was a bit surreal. We have clippers at home given my dad has such short hair, but it took me and my friend a while to get my hair short enough to use them. We also did it without a mirror so I had no idea what was going on. I could just feel my head getting lighter and lighter and the floor getting covered in more and more of my hair. As you can imagine, I ran straight to the mirror after it was over. I sort of liked it, but part of me hated it. It wasn't until I got up the next day, however, and brushed my teeth that I realised just what I'd done. I was shocked.

I feel amazing now and it has been wonderful to receive so much support. I never expected to raise more than £2,000 for Breast Cancer Haven but I am so glad I have. I know my mum would have benefitted from such an amazing place (I pass it on the bus on my way into Leeds and it makes me smile) had it been around when she was going through treatment. And, it makes me feel great knowing that I can really help people that are just like my mummy - as well as those that feel sad, just like me.

What's next (once the hair has grown back)? Well, my dad bought me a skydive for my 18th birthday, so I've already jumped out of a plane. I reckon a trek in a far flung country would be amazing. I am already volunteering in the fundraising office at Breast Cancer Haven too and I may even set up my own charity for families of cancer sufferers one day.

If you're thinking of doing a bit of fundraising yourself, I would say Breast Cancer Haven is a brilliant charity to support. Just be honest with your intentions and don't be scared of doing something a bit wild. Make sure you enjoy it too.

I always said to myself that I wanted to grow up to be just like mum. If she were around to see me today (in my fluffy hats to keep out the cold) I hope she'd agree I've given it my best shot.


If Hannah’s story has inspired you to flex those fundraising muscles for Breast Cancer Haven, then head to our fundraising page , which is packed with tips and advice about getting started. Good luck