My sister Geraldine was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 (at the age of 46), and underwent treatment, including chemotherapy and a mastectomy. In early 2013, she was given the all-clear, but then within just a couple of months, she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer.
I must admit initially I didn’t really understand the full implications of Geraldine’s diagnosis with secondary breast cancer. I clearly remember the phone conversation I had with her husband, John, asking him what treatment would be needed this time to make her better. There was a brief silence and he then explained to me that there was no cure.
That was a ‘light-bulb moment’ for me – I remember it hit me like a sledgehammer, and I was absolutely devastated. I felt totally helpless. I knew that my sister was going through something so terrible, so unimaginably awful, and I wanted to do something, anything I could to help.
After my conversation with John, I wanted to find out as much as I could about secondary breast cancer. This led me to discover the Breast Cancer Now (then Breast Cancer Campaign) website, and that’s where my connection with the charity began.
I had run a couple of marathons in the past so knew a little about fundraising and I realised that there was a way I could help, even if it may not benefit Geraldine directly. Once I’d decided to take on a challenge event to raise funds for Breast Cancer Now, I was especially impressed by the understanding and empathy shown by the team, at what was a very emotional time for me. Right from the start they offered wonderful support, and were genuinely interested in how I was feeling, and how Geraldine was doing with her treatment.
I have since taken part in the Brighton Marathon, the Great North Run, the London Marathon (more than once!) and this year I'm taking on the Three Peaks Challenge for Breast Cancer Now. Every one of my challenge events will always hold special memories, but having now become a local representative for the charity, I’ve been looking for less strenuous ways of raising money for the charity!
Of course I’ll be wearing it pink this year. Quite simply, I take part because it’s easy and it’s great fun to do. You don't need to train and you can be as creative and as crazy as you like. Running an event like a cake sale or fancy dress competition at work adds interest and can be a great way of getting to know colleagues a little better. I’m certainly hoping to get as many of my colleagues as possible involved in some way this year.
It’s absolutely vital that people wear pink on 18 October. This is the one day in the year when we have an opportunity to put breast cancer centre-stage and get awareness out to a huge national audience. While other events like the London Marathon and Great North Run are huge fundraisers for Breast Cancer Now, we are just one of many charities out there. But wear it pink is the centrepiece of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and as well as raising vital funds for research, it’s a great way of getting the message across to people who may not be aware of the statistics, risks, or warning signs relating to breast cancer.
No matter what the size of your event, even if you just wear it pink on your own, if it results in just one person understanding how to TLC (Touch Look Check), or learning about how to reduce their risks of getting breast cancer, or maybe even finding out about becoming a fundraiser or regular donor to the charity, you’ll have done a wonderful thing. And even if you contribute just a couple of pounds, you’ll be bringing Breast Cancer Now’s aim of ensuring that no one dies of breast cancer by the year 2050 a step closer.