Thank you for getting involved with the Malden Fortnight Fun Run, and donating via JustGiving to Breast Cancer Care. Pete Bodley-Scott, the race organiser, kindly offered me the opportunity to nominate this year's charity after I had to reluctantly step back from his punishing but rewarding boot camps earlier this year.
When I was diagnosed with Grade 3 invasive breast cancer in February, my first thought after "I don't want to die" was, "I don't have time or space for this at the moment". At an already uncertain time in my personal and professional life, it struck a hammer blow, terrifying because although of course I knew people who had gone through that journey, the cliché applies that you never think it will happen to you.
As a journalist, my instinct with any new experience is always to research it thoroughly. But I knew instinctively that hitting Google as soon as I got home would be the wrong thing to do. In those first few weeks before I had surgery to remove the lump in my right breast, and two lymph nodes for testing, the Breast Cancer Care website was invaluable – my trusted guide, providing comprehensive, up-to-date and accurate information about my diagnosis and about the treatment that lay ahead, and equipping me with a whole new vocabulary that I'd never previously had reason to learn.
The emotional support the charity has provided as I have undergone chemotherapy has also been a lifeline. I am lucky enough to have the strong support network of family and friends that anyone in my situation would hope for, but the group of women whom I have become virtual friends with through Breast Cancer Care all embarked upon treatment at the same time as me, and that shared experience makes it all feel a lot less lonely and a little less daunting.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, with one person diagnosed every 10 minutes: one in eight women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast Cancer Care is the only specialist UK-wide charity in the UK providing care, support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer. Thank you for playing your part in helping to give those women affected the information and support they need at one of the hardest times of their lives.