£3,325 raised for Breast Cancer Care to support people affected by breast cancer

On 14thOctober, I organised a Big Pink Friday event at my work (Nviro in Portsmouth) for Breast Cancer Care – the only UK-wide specialist breast cancer support charity.

bccbigpink1-alliemoonjourney-copyWe were delighted to be able to raise over £325 from our dress down, cake sale and raffle prize draw. My colleagues really got into the spirit of the day by baking cakes and paying  money to dress in pink – adorning themselves with sparkly crowns, deely boppers, wigs and cowboy hats. There was also an award for the ‘Best Dressed in Pink’ which went to our regional director with his fetching pink golf trousers, shirt and tie combo!

I know that a lot of cancer patients and survivors absolutely detest the pink season of breast cancer awareness month. Greedy companies getting on the band wagon making money out of pink branded products. Downplaying the subject and not really raising awareness. I do completely understand how these people feel about the ‘fluffy pink brigade’. However, having been through my own cancer experience, Breast Cancer Care were a massive support to me through a very distressing period of my life and I was very keen to fundraise for them and be able to give something back to this amazing charity.

Breast Cancer Care were there for me in so many ways and I cannot thank them enough. Through the many calls I made to their supportive helpline (0808 800 6000), the myriad of useful and easy to digest information booklets and their forum that enabled me to connect with, and gain support from, other cancer patients at all times of the day and night. Their Someone Like Me service put in touch with two vey kind volunteers – people who had been given a similar diagnosis and treatment plan – who let me talk through my fears and worries and who completely understood my personal concerns. I also used their Ask the Nurse service which is useful if you’d rather not speak to someone on the phone. You can email questions to their specialist nurses and quickly receive information back in writing.

As I’ve written about in a previous post, I also attended a free two-day Younger Women Together event in Bristol which is aimed specifically at women aged 20-45 who have been diagnosed with primary breast cancer. I learnt a lot from the sessions they hosted and benefited from connecting with other women of my age who had similar experiences. Because I lived more than two hours away from the venue, Breast Cancer Care also kindly covered the cost of my hotel stay for the night before the event and the following night.

I also attended their Moving Forward course as I was approaching the end of my treatment. This free four-week programme covered topics such as healthy eating, exercise, managing menopausal symptoms, lymphoedema, cancer fatigue, intimacy and relationships and adjusting and adapting after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It was also good to connect with other ladies and relate to all the side effects and issues we faced.

Back in January time, the BBC journalist, Victoria Derbyshire, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and through her diaries she detailed her account of losing her hair. A couple of months prior to this I had signed up to be a Media Volunteer for Breast Cancer Care and was approached through them by the Daily Mirror. In support of Victoria’s diaries, they were running a piece on ladies who had lost their hair from breast cancer treatment and asked if I would be interested in sharing my own experience about losing my hair.

At this point in time I was just reaching the end of radiotherapy and my active treatment and combined with starting my Zolodex injections, I was emotionally all over the place and it was a very distressing point for me. In hindsight, I’m not sure I would have agreed to do it had I have been in a better frame of mind. I felt hesitant at first, but really wanted to be able to help other women who were going through a similar situation and also help promote the charity, so I agreed to be interviewed.

Other than my hubby and my best mate, I didn’t tell anyone about the article, after all I clearly wasn’t doing it for fame purposes and I don’t really like the photos of myself in it with little or no hair. As it turned out the Daily Mail ran the article too and a few people from work then contacted me to say that they’d read the article and congratulated me on doing it as well as passing on their well wishes. Whilst this was clearly going in a national newspaper, for some reason I didn’t really consider that people I knew might see it (yes, I know how silly that sounds now!).

Now, as I have finished my more active treatment and life has returned to ‘normal’, I use Breast Cancer Care’s services much less. I do now receive their free regular Vita magazine which I’d recommend to other breast cancer patients/survivors to subscribe to.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Unfortunately it is a disease that has touched many of our lives in some way, whether it’s through a friend or loved one being diagnosed, or through our own personal encounter. As October is now coming to a close and breast cancer awareness month ends for another year, despite all the pink fan fare, ultimately every penny raised through events like this will help Breast Cancer Care and other charities to continue to support anyone affected by breast cancer.

Fiona West, Fundraising Officer at Breast Cancer Care, added: “We’re so grateful to Nviro for holding a Big Pink event in aid of Breast Cancer Care. With the help of supporters like Nviro we can provide care, support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer. An estimated 691,000 people in the UK are currently living with a breast cancer diagnosis so there has never been such an urgent need for our support services.”

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I was very touched by some of the kind donations I received for our raffle and would like to personally thank everyone who bought tickets and to the following supporters for their generosity and great prizes: Lucy Alderton (Cable-Talk UK), Deborah Queen (Estee Lauder), Jeff Whiley (JM2 Support Services), Kirsten Lewry (K’s Wooden Crafts), Karen Font-Garcia (Golden Light Reiki School), Jacqueline Snow (Love Snowberry), Monica Kelleway and Elanor Clarke. Also huge thanks goes to my very dear friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) for the very generous and kind donation to this charity helping us raise a whopping total of over £3,325.

It’s not too late to make a donation! Click here to donate online, or alternatively you can text  ‘BIGP95’ and the amount you wish to donate to 70070 (e.g. ‘BIGP95 £95).

Click here to find out more about Breast Cancer Care and the care, support and information they provide.

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Cancerversary

I received the letter last week for my mammogram screening appointment. The one-year anniversary, or “cancerversary”, is approaching since I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

April has always been quite a significant month in terms of anniversaries for my hubby and I. It was the month that we first met each other, when we got engaged, when we first moved in together and when we arrived back home from travelling around the world together. Now the month holds a much less joyful anniversary and brings back disturbing memories from a traumatic period in my life.

The 24mm sized lump in my left breast did not show up on the mammogram I had last year. This is because breast tissue is dense in younger women so I had to have an additional MRI scan in order for it to be visible. At my last oncology appointment I requested to have an MRI as I was already feeling anxious about whether I would only have a mammogram. As soon as the letter arrived, a horrible feeling arrived in the pit of my stomach and my eyes filled with tears. I immediately rang the hospital to check whether the appointment I’d received was for an MRI. The nurse said the appointment is for a mammogram and explained that they always do a mammogram first and that I was also scheduled to have an MRI too.

I’m not sure if the terror and fear of the cancer coming back will ever leave me, but I know that at that hospital appointment I’m going to be transported back to the scary place from last year. The innocent and somewhat naïve approach I took to attending that screening appointment with my dear friend. The day that unfolded into having an ultrasound, laying on that hospital bed in tears having a needle biopsy and the ensuing trauma from the worrying look on the doctor’s face who sat and told me that “we are concerned”. The day my life and the plans I had for it changed, the days of being care-free ended.

Luckily my breast care nurse happened to call me this week to see how I was getting on. I told her about the mammogram and I asked how long it would take to get the results. She said I could ring her if I hadn’t heard within 7 days and she would then follow up and get them for me.

I’ve also just started my Tamoxifen medication. I had been waiting for my oncologist to let me know whether I’d be taking Tamoxifen or an aromotese inhibitor, Letrozole. He was conferring with his colleagues as to which I should take. In the meantime I’d been doing my own research and had used Breast Cancer Care’s Ask the Nurse service. This was particularly helpful as they sent me information on results from trials that have been carried out on both drugs.

I’d come to my own conclusion that as I was pre menopausal at the end of chemo and was having ovarian suppression, that an aromotese inhibitor proved slightly more effective than Tamoxifen. At my last oncology appointment I was slightly miffed at the fact that I was seen by a locum, who had to go next door to check with my oncologist which medication I would be put on. This meant I didn’t have the opportunity to understand the reasoning behind his decision. I will speak with him again at my next appointment, but I must have faith in his knowledge and experience that it’s the right choice for me.

Life, and work in particular, continues to be challenging. I’m sure I can get past this significant anniversary and continue to look forward with the positive and strong mind set I already have and gradually put this whole experience behind me. They do say that as one door closes, another opens and I have a feeling that life has plenty more positive and rewarding opportunities in store in the coming months ahead.