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When Karen Hales was told she needed a mastectomy to remove a breast cancer tumour, little did she think she would be getting her kit off in public just months later.

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But thanks to a group of friends with an unusual idea, she is one of the stars of an all-Havering nude charity calendar.

The saucy calendar will be on sale from Saturday to raise money for Cancer Research UK, who are working on treatment for the tens of thousands of people diagnosed each year.

Single mum Karen, 47, said the signs are looking good for her after months of intensive chemotherapy and the operation.

She added: “I lost my hair, my nails, I lost everything.

“But everyone’s been so kind and it’s given me a second chance at life.

“You don’t realise how much you’re loved until you go through something like this.”

After hearing of her illness, friends at The Havering Well, Rush Green Road, decided to raise money and awareness of the disease with a cheeky charity calendar.

Karen herself appears behind a carefully positioned present on the December page, while ladies aged from their 30s to 70s star in other seasonal scenes.

Like in the film Calendar Girls, which chronicles a saucy calendar made by the Women’s Institute, unlikely household items preserve the models’ modesty, including a witch’s hat and umbrella.

Friend Kim Fordham, 50, otherwise known as Miss August, said the group hopes to raise £1,500 from sales.

She added: “The calendar wasn’t as racy as I would have like it to be – there’s a lot of covering up going on – but everyone was a good sport.

“I have two boys and they’ve been supportive but I think my 17-year-old is a bit embarrassed – he’s lost all his street cred.”

The group used a friend’s house for the photo shoot, which October star Philippa Bennett, 40, said was great fun.

“We all felt a bit self-conscious and silly to start with but it was fun and we were proud we did it,” she added.

“We wanted to raise as much awareness as possible and raise funds for Cancer Research UK to do their job and help treat it.”

The charity estimates that around 55,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year, which makes up a third of all new cancers diagnosed in women.

In 2010, nearly 12,000 women and 77 men died from the illness, but the odds are improving.

The most recent statistics from 2005-2009 show that more than 85 per cent of women in England survived their cancer for five years or more, and the figures keep getting better.

Karen thanked Queen’s Hospital in Romford, her daughter Katie Hales, dad David Whiting, sister Kelly McKinnon and friend Keren Warren for all their support.

She said: “The calendar is a brilliant way to encourage people not to be ashamed of anything – you should just be proud you’re alive.”

Copies of the calendar will be on sale at a free launch party tomorrow (Friday) at The Havering Well from 7pm.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell is due to attend and there will be a DJ, band, disco and food as well as other opportunities to donate in a raffle and charity auction.

Calendars cost £10, all profits to charity.

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