Marie Ratcliffe has had more than her fair share of serious health problems.
The mother-of-two was forced to give up her dream of becoming a professional musician after being injured in a car crash as a teenager and was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.
But she has overcome the challenges and remained positive – and Marie is now doing her bit to help other people.
Marie, of Trinity Road, Chorley, is playing music again and will perform special concerts in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
She said: “It’s my music that keeps me going. And I love the simple things in life like going out in the fresh air. I really appreciate the little things in life.
“I always think that if you have a little ray of hope shining in your heart, that will always keep you going and bring you through.”
Marie was just 18 years old when she was seriously injured in a car crash.
She had been travelling in the passenger seat of a car which skidded on black ice in Blackburn.
Marie said: “We ended up in a lamp-post and the car concertinaed on my legs.
“I went through the windscreen and my legs were trapped.
“I hit a yellow litter bin and broke my neck, but it missed my spinal cord by inches.
“I was trapped in the car for two hours. The firemen were on strike that morning, but they came out for me.”
Marie was taken to hospital with serious injuries to her legs.
She spent six months in traction, which did not work, and had 13 major operations.
A year later, the screws were removed from her legs, but she broke one of her legs again while getting changed at a swimming pool.
Doctors said they had removed the screws too early and she spent another nine months in a wheelchair.
Her injuries from the crash meant Marie had to give up her dream of playing piano as a
She said: “From being a little girl, I always wanted to play music. My auntie bought us a big piano and I used to go downstairs at the age of four to play it.
“My mum and dad sent me for lessons when I was 11 years old and I did all my exams.
“I was hoping to go to the Northern College when the accident happened.”
Marie continued to play piano on and off, but it was only when her husband and mother bought her a grand piano eight years ago that she took it up properly again.
“I started studying some classical music and having quite a few lessons,” she said.
Marie had another life-changing health problem when she was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.
An aggressive tumour was found during a routine mammogram and she underwent surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.
Marie said: “Within three days I was called back in and within a month I had the operation. Six weeks after I was on the chemotherapy.
“The staff at Rosemere Cancer Foundation were absolutely brilliant and very supportive.”
She struggled with the chemotherapy, as it forced her to stay in bed ill for nearly six months, and it damaged veins in her arms.
Marie is now in remission and beating the disease.
But sadly, just as her hair was growing back from the cancer treatment, Marie slipped on black ice at Rivington and broke her leg yet again.
Eighteen months later, she is on the mend but still walks with a crutch.
Despite all her health problems, Marie has always stayed positive.
She said: “I feel like I have had my fair share of physical and emotional problems, but I always think there are a lot of people, like children in third world countries, who are really suffering.
“I’m in a lovely, warm house, I have a lovely husband and I have so much to be thankful for in life.”
Marie has now decided to do something to help other people and is holding a series of music recitals in churches to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.
Her biggest performance will be at St George’s Church in Chorley at 7.30pm on Friday, July 11, when she will perform on her own grand piano.
She will play her own music as well as classical pieces by Schumann, Mendelssohn and other composers.
Marie said: “I have never done anything like this before. It’s alright playing in your front room, but I hope it’s goes okay on the day.
“I’m feeling excited.”
She added: “I really want to do this for all the women who have been through breast cancer and are going through it, and for people who love classical music.”
Tickets for the show cost £8.50 and are available from Chorley Health Food Store or by calling Marie on 07896 069805.
She will also perform at Clitheroe United Reformed Church on Saturday, June 21 and Kendal Parish Church on Saturday, July 5.