Thank you to everyone that has shared their story.
You are not alone. Often comfort can be found from hearing other peoples experiences of breast cancer. Here we share the stories of our wonderful supporters.
I first came across The Nightingale Centre in the spring of 2014 after discovering a lump. A scan, a biopsy and a blood test later, I got the all clear. Since then, I’ve been so grateful for the consistent reassurance and support The Nightingale Centre have given me during these tests that I’d really like to give something back, particularly for those who are not as lucky as I was.
Being a keen cook, I get a lot of joy from cooking for others and coming up with new recipes that I love. I came up with the idea Food 4 Boobs as a way of inspiring others to cook and eat healthily, as well as raising money for Prevent Breast Cancer.
To find out more about Briony’s Food 4 Boob challenge please click here.Close
When I was first invited to take part in the PROCAS study, I knew if I said yes, I would need to commit to it as it was for research into the prevention of breast cancer.
My eldest sister had died after the breast cancer she had been free of, for thirteen years, returned. My other older sister has had breast cancer twice, so the idea of preventing breast cancer just seems to be the best way to deal with breast cancer. Prevention is better than cure.
My biggest fear was that I would be asked to exercise more and as I spend all day on my feet it felt like that was a step too far. So, the time from the original invitation arriving to me ringing and saying, yes, I wanted to take part, was almost six months! The lady who answered the phone had to search to find my details as it had been so long, but she found me and made me an appointment to meet Grace, my dietitian.
At the first appointment Grace took lots of measurements and we discussed my family’s medical history. She gave me the 2-Day Diet Book and another book about exercising. At home I read the book and thought, oh my goodness how am I going to get my head around this but then my practical head took over and I decided what I would eat the next day and wrote it all down. I did this for several days so that if there was a day that I simply couldn’t be bothered to work out my days portions I would be able to pick up a previous day’s plan and repeat it. As time progressed I found I didn’t need to write out the plans, I could work it out in my head very easily.
For exercise I began walking, twice a week for 40-50 minutes but I hardly read the book about exercise, I just looked at a few pages and put it down.
After 3 months I returned to see Grace and I had exceeded my target of weight loss and all my other measurements showed an improvement. I was so pleased with my progress and it really didn’t feel hard to have achieved this much, so I set new targets for the next three months. I had this diet nailed but I was still being encouraged to exercise more. About a month later I signed up to a weekly Bootcamp! What had happened inside my head, I have no idea but suddenly it didn’t seem such a big deal and a year later I am still going, some weeks I do a Boxercise class too!
I returned to my final appointment with Grace at the six month point, I had lost much more weight than I set out to do and was at the high end of my ideal weight for my age and height. Grace took all the measurements again and told me my results were perfect. The 2-Day Diet had been a revelation, my weight loss averaged two pounds a week, it had not been hard to stick to and I was now healthy. I decided to continue on my own and get to the mid to lower end of the weight range for my height and this too has been easily achieved and maintained.
It is the last stone and a half that has changed my life so much, I am fit and healthy, able to think about working to my retirement date with ease. I was struggling carrying four and a half stones extra weight and it was probably going to kill me, it was certainly having a negative impact on my life. I am sixty years old and last Saturday I abseiled 150 feet down Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral. I have never done anything like it and couldn’t have done it without the 2- Day Diet.
My eating habits have changed, why would I want to eat something that could harm me? And best of all I have shared the secret of my success with others and I see their health improving as they follow the 2-Day Diet.Close
My name is Danny Whitby. I’m 39 years old. I’m a musician and conductor in the West End.
I started running in July 2011 when I was working on The Wizard of Oz at The London Palladium. I was putting on weight and wasn’t so happy about it. I wanted to exercise but was worried of having to join a gym, do any team sport or take my clothes off to go swimming! So, it seemed that running was the obvious choice.
I bought a cheap pair of trainers, pulled out an old T-shirt and pair of shorts and armed with a 6 week 0-5km plan, on 27th July 2012, I headed out to Peckham Rye Park.
I was convinced that people would point and laugh at me. They didn’t. Instead, I felt a huge joy because I was out doing it and was having a great time.
I finished the 6 week plan. I lost some weight and I felt much better too.
The rest is history I guess. It’s simple. I became (a little) addicted to running. My distances got longer: I progressed to my first half marathon in February 2013 and to my first marathon, in London, in April 2013.
I met Morag Siller in December 2004. I was working at The Palace Theatre in Manchester for 6 weeks and, through a mutual friend, was put in touch with Morag and Tim because I needed somewhere to stay. They were so welcoming, and I remember endless evenings of wine, Celebrity Big Brother and more wine. I had a wonderful time staying with them, and over the next few years Morag became a dear friend to me. She was a beautiful woman. An incredibly talented actress, very funny and so caring to everyone who knew her.
Morag passed away in April this year. She was 46 years old.
Until then I’d never been to the funeral of a close friend. It was a hard day. Travelling home on the train I felt I needed to do something. Something in memory of, and to celebrate Morag’s life. I thought back over our friendship and remembered how often Morag would tell me how proud she was that I’d stuck with the running. So, it seemed apt that I lace up my trainers for her.
So, I’m running 4 marathons in 8 months to raise money for Prevent Breast Cancer. That’s about 2000 training miles to get me through the 104.8 miles of the Oslo, Pisa, London and Edinburgh marathons.
I’m using a training plan that I used for a marathon last year: Asics 3 hour 30 plan. I don’t stand much of a chance of getting anywhere near that time, but I like to push myself in the training in the hope it will make the marathon easier for me (well that’s what I tell myself!).
I run 4/5 times a week with that plan: an interval session (4-6 miles), a mid length run (5-10 miles), tempo run (6-8 miles), hill session (3-6 miles), then the long run at the weekend (12-22 miles)
It’s sometimes tough fitting the training in around walking the dogs, working and a little socialising. I’m currently Associate Musical Director on Disney’s Aladdin which is at The Prince Edward Theatre in the West End. I either run in the morning or into work in the afternoon ready for rehearsals or matinees.
The support of family, friends, the Aladdin company and colleagues of other shows I’ve worked on has been wonderful. Getting a “You’ve been sponsored” text at the end of a run, along with messages of support, are so fantastic and I wouldn’t have been able to get through some of these long days without them.
I won’t lie: I find it tough at times. Long runs, sometimes in the hot summer sun (and still to come, the cold winter rain), getting out of bed to run 16 miles before doing 2 shows, running up and down a hill 10 times. You get the picture. It’s not easy when you’re more accustomed to sitting behind a piano.
But then I remember why I’m doing it, and I manage to get the trainers laced up again. I’m not sure if Morag is looking on smiling or laughing at me for doing such a ridiculous thing. But whichever it is, I know she’s with me every step of the way. Hopefully with a glass of wine in hand too.
Following my diagnosis in 2003 I had two lumpectomies, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and 10 years of Arimidex. Happily, I’m still here to tell the tale.
I had a pretty grueling year and I have to mention my amazing mother who looked after me so well – It’s the closest to you who also suffer your pain.
Although the initial diagnosis is a complete world shaker, I think state of mind plays a big part in your treatment. I just tried to remain positive. I kept going to the gym, playing golf and seeing my girlfriends.
I was single going through my treatment and shortly afterwards I met the man of my dreams. We married in 2008 and have just celebrated sever years of marital bliss. Whilst going through my treatment this was just a pipe dream.
Prevention is the key to saving lives and the research carried out by the Prevent Breast Cancer team is working towards reducing the occurrences of this common and life threatening disease.
I am very proud to be able to make a contribution to this cause.Close
We have a faulty gene in our family, that so far, we can’t find. So, as a family, we don’t know if we carry a faulty or aggressive gene or if we’ve just been unlucky! My mum, mums mum and mum’s sister all battled long illnesses with breast cancer, but sadly my aunt and grandmother died at 46 and my mum at 50.
Being 28 years ago the men in the family didn’t talk about ‘breast bancer’ after all it’s a woman’s disease and the only conversation my brother and I had was that one day we would get a phone call saying our sister had breast cancer. So, you can imagine our shock when it was my brother who was diagnosed with breast cancer, he was 36. He had a mastectomy and radio therapy but died aged 39.
The following year my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump, she was due to have preventative surgery later that year! She was 37and she fought it hard with a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemo, trial chemo, drugs and full hysterectomy. She is 12 years on clear and healthy.
That’s when my fight started. When my brother was diagnosed, I went to my GP for help and advice, but he didn’t know men could get breast cancer. In less than 5 minutes I was being shown the door with his parting comment “let me know how you get on”.
Shocked and scared, I was stunned with his lack of empathy. Luckily my sister was involved with The Nightingale Centre since mum’s death. So, I started a few years of offering myself for blood tests, scans, even trying a mammogram (as a man we don’t fit in the equipment). In 2004 I asked if I could have preventative surgery because we can’t find the faulty gene. Having preventative surgery was the only option left for my peace of mind.
Staff at my hospital appointments didn’t expect a man, they thought the “Mr” was a spelling mistake. On the day of my operation, the security staff thought I was a troublemaker trying to get onto a women’s ward. When I got up to the ward, they struggled to find me a bed because again they thought it was a spelling mistake, Mr should have been Mrs.
The forms I had to fill in at the breast cancer unit were all directed at women and were virtually impossible for me to fill in anything other than name, address and date of birth. I couldn’t answer when my period started, how many pregnancies I’d had or if I breastfed, there wasn’t even a box to tick male or a Mr instead of Mrs or Miss!
I’m a grandfather now and even though we don’t know if we carry a faulty gene (just because we can’t find it doesn’t mean it’s not there!), I still get frustrated at the lack of information available about male breast cancer. There is a lack of awareness within the medical profession and the general public.
Yes, it can be embarrassing as a man to talk about what is considered to be a woman’s disease but with the help of ‘Prevent Breast Cancer’ we can break down these misconceptions and increase survival rates in men by raising awareness and making it easier for men to get earlier diagnosis and help.Close
I noticed the buzz online around the virtual marathon and decided to give it a go myself. This was despite the horrific weather and self-imposed masochistic conditions. I’ve done several marathons, an Ironman, and so on, to raise money for breast cancer charities. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to create some good news in a year which has really lacked it. I’ve read a lot about breast cancer and its treatments. I agree with the Prevent Breast Cancer’s ethos and approach and want to support it being adopted more widely.
It was bleak. Far more bleak than previous marathons. And I chose it this way, it somehow felt more worthwhile. 25 laps around my local park on a Sunday full of rain and wind. After 17 laps or so I couldn’t keep count and it felt like 50. It’s very hard to practice how much your body and mind will start to crumble towards the back of a marathon, even basic maths and avoiding kids is a challenge. I nearly got taken out by a rogue spaniel towards the end due to my slow reactions. But you have to keep focusing on each lap, each jelly baby, each random cheer – soak them up, even if they aren’t for you and eventually you win the war of attrition. Although your body feels a bit broken, donations flood in and you know it was all worth it.
My mother died from breast cancer when I was just a toddler. It’s a disease which has changed the entire course of my life. I lost a parent before I turned two – that changes everything. I was too young at the time to know what a hero my Dad was, working full-time and trying to raise a young boy by himself. He had to make different decisions, and hard decisions as a single parent, something I’ve only come to appreciate as an adult and even now, I doubt I will ever understand the extent of it.
It’s an issue so close and so sad for us, we can barely face speaking about it at all. What I can do is fundraise to try and prevent others from experiencing the same heartbreak and challenges that we’ve had. I also lost my grandmother to breast cancer and have multiple friends who have suffered too.
To have a breast cancer free future would mean that no one had to endure the effects of the disease, the treatment of it and if that would mean no one would be left to grieve and have their lives changed, for the worse, forever, that would mean the world to me. Sadly, I can’t create a breast cancer free past, but I will always help to create that future.
Jo first noticed a swelling under her left arm in February 2014. Being a mother of two and a fitness consultant as well as having done sporting activity most of her life, she put this down to being run down and requested antibiotics from her doctor.Close
After I was asked to wear a pink tutu at a charity golf day, my mind starting wandering about the potential of this flimsy but eye catching item of clothing. I remember thinking that it was a shame we only got to wear it for teeing off on the first hole and surely, I could justify getting people to wear it for a little longer. Meeting Angela, one of the Prevent Breast Cancer fundraisers in the clubhouse after the golf further convinced me to support Prevent Breast Cancer in the future. Many people have some fantastic personal and emotional reasons for supporting charities. Mine was simply because I was a sucker for a nice lady with a pink skirt.
With this in mind, somehow during the cold weather in January and February 2014, I managed to convince a few friends that it would be a great idea to improve on the bike rides we had previously done and cycle from our home near Rugby in Warwickshire all the way to Paris. Oh, and do it whilst wearing a pink tutu. Surprisingly 19 other people agreed and so on the fourth of June we left our village near Rugby and set off via London, Newhaven and Dieppe to Paris. It took just under four days to reach the French capital!Close
Following a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2009 and several challenge races, Dawn decided it was time to set herself an even bigger challenge!
Dawn, her husband and their 9 year old son, Michael, took on the mammoth task of an 180km walk across the Alps. No cheating was allowed in the form of some sneaky skis, no matter how tempting!
Together they have raised an astounding £1,208 for Prevent Breast Cancer. A huge thank goes out to them, as well as their friends and family who have supported us!
“I have been inspired to raise vital funds for Prevent Breast Cancer by 2 inspirational members of my family who have, and are currently facing, the harsh realities of breast cancer with unbelievable positivity, a smile on their face, drive, passion and determination that I find truly awe inspiring and makes me proud that they are relations of mine.
Kirsty is my 31 year old sister in-law who has faced breast cancer twice within a 2 year period with her first diagnosis at the young age of 27. Through chemotherapy, radiotherapy major surgery, grit and determination, she has thankfully twice beaten cancer. Despite undergoing treatment and the aftereffects of a double mastectomy, Kirsty throughout this has maintained her ‘life and soul of the party’ attitude and a happy family atmosphere for their little boy, with support from her husband.
Glenys is my mum and has very recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. My mum has been operated on to remove the cancerous lump and now faces further surgery before we know the true extent of the problem and what future therapy and surgery she faces. Like Kirsty, my mum is tackling this with unbelievable positivity and determination to face anything that is thrown at her to beat this disease.
Because of this, in both 2014 and 2015 I am raising money for Prevent Breast Cancer who research preventative measures for breast cancer.
Having spoken to both Kirsty and my mum they feel that without prevention measures such as mammograms, regular checks and in many cases genetic testing along with the support they have received from centres like this, their diagnoses may not have occurred and given them the chance to even fight and beat the disease. So, as this centre is locally based and renowned throughout Europe for the research they complete into prevention and early detection of breast cancer, it seemed an ideal cause to raise money for.
To raise the vital funds needed I am doing the following events –
- Manchester 10k – 18th May 2014
- Barcelona to Nice Cycle – 29th June 2014 – 500 mile in 5 days
- Adidas 24 hour Thunder run – July 26th 2014
- Manchester Marathon – April 2015
In addition to this, there will be a number of other events throughout the year that I am undertaking to raise awareness of the charity and to continue to raise money to reach my goal!”
Martyn raised over £10,000 for the charity through his multiple sport challenges.Close
Photographer Kate Moore has recently donated her time by completing the photography for the Sedgley Park Rugby Club’s 2015 charity calendar – sales from which will be given to Prevent Breast Cancer.
“I have always loved taking photos, but it was the arrival of my children that really inspired me to get into photography. Time flies by so quickly and I realised that it was important to capture those special moments forever in print.
I love photography and enjoying the fun that can be had whether it is a natural shoot outside in the park or when the weather doesn’t allow, some quality time in the studio.
When I am not taking photos I’m a busy mum to two cheeky monkeys Oscar and Tilly and my mischievous pup Captain!Close
There are few more shocking moments than the life changing one when you hear your consultant say, ‘it’s not good news’. In my case it was cancer, breast cancer.
You steel yourself to face what’s next, the surgery, the gruelling rounds of chemo and the daily dose of radiotherapy.
Family and friends rally around, and your isolated situation is supported by love and actions of care that are staggering. You allow yourself to smile, indebted for their help.
As each day passes you grow to respect that this life changing diagnosis is at some points the lowest ebb of existence and at others the gasping realisation that, ‘You know what? This is do-able!’
As you slowly recover you face the fact that what was once do-able has now in fact become done. You begin to allow yourself to look forward. You begin to discover a new energy for life and in my case magnanimity- that although I couldn’t change my diagnosis, I didn’t want to fight myself over it either.
Life is for living – try not to worry every minute about what may go wrong! What is the worst that can happen? Well in my case it did –twice! But it was do-able and if it happens again, I know with love and support it can be do-able again.
But from now on in – I love my life and as long as life lasts, I want to live it.
Emma has been a supporter of Prevent Breast Cancer for many years after being diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2011 aged only 23. Emma who is from Wythenshawe in Manchester was one of the youngest women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in Greater Manchester.Close
Dawn is a fantastic supporter of Prevent Breast Cancer who chose to walk the Ridgeway Walk (87 miles) in 6 days. Accompanied by her cousin, Sandra, Dawn took on this fantastic challenge in memory of her mum and has raised an incredible £1,772 for the chairty.
A huge thank you goes out to Dawn, Sandra and all their wonderfully supportive friends and family!Close
My name is Ben Sciama, I am 17 and currently studying for my AS-Levels. I recently organised The MGS Genesis Golf Day 2014 for Prevent Breast Cancer (formally known as the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre) in conjunction with my school, The Manchester Grammar School.
I first came across Prevent Breast Cancer at another golf day last year and straight away the charity left a great impression on me. Its unique nature of being the only charity in the UK entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer, as well as the ambitious research studies and the important goals it sets out to achieve compelled me to get involved to help prevent breast cancer for the next generation.
I approached my school and spoke to them about all the great work that Prevent Breast Cancer are engaged in. They didn’t hesitate in offering me support in raising money. Following The MGS Genesis Golf Day, we hope to hold further events within Manchester Grammar School for PBC. From the golf day itself I helped Prevent Breast Cancer to raise over £31,000 which I hope with the help of my school to only continue to add to.
Supporter Viv Tomlinson, a former Merseyside Police Officer of 30 years’ service, took up playing bowls after an injury that forced her to give up hockey. Since being the National Champion in 1999 Viv, has become very involved in the administration and promotion of the sport.
Viv selected Prevent Breast Cancer as the charity she wanted to support prior to being appointed “Bowls England President 2017”, as she explained “I lost a close friend to this dreadful disease when she was just in her 30s, as when diagnosed it was too late. Hence, for me, aiming to diagnose early, predict the likelihood of anyone developing breast cancer and actually working towards preventing it – this has to be the way forward. When visiting The Nightingale Centre to learn about the charity I was taken with the peace and serenity of the place, the determination of the charity team and knew this was a charity worth supporting.”
As President during 2017, which is the tenth year of Bowls England, Viv will be travelling England, Wales and Ireland and aims to encourage children through to any age to start playing, and generally change people’s perceptions of this sport being old fashioned! Viv also wants to raise awareness of the work being done by Prevent Breast Cancer.”Close
In November 2010 I discovered that I was a carrier of the BRCA2 gene. I was told that there was around an 80% chance that I was going to develop breast cancer and a high probability that I may develop Ovarian cancer.
I had lost my father, grandmother, uncle and numerous cousins to cancer and I suppose it was no surprise to hear that there was something genetic in my family that was causing this terrible disease to keep striking. I was determined not to “sink” and to make something positive come out of this information.
I consequently set up a web site called www.claireandthegenie.com. Before every scan, before and after every operation, I began to write in detail about my experience. I wanted there to be a personal account of someone who had been found to have this gene but who felt “lucky” not “doomed”. Someone who was empowered by this information rather than paralysed in fear. Following numerous hospital appointments and discussions I decided to have my ovaries removed and a preventative double mastectomy (using the fat from my tummy to reconstruct my breasts). I wrote in detail the fears and the relief, and to my amazement I started to receive numerous emails from women all over the world who were having to investigate their own family history and having to face similar operations etc. Soon I was literally getting hundreds of emails and was also asked to do magazine articles and interviews. Over 60,000 people have now visited the site. The response was truly incredible, and it was lovely to feel that I may be able to comfort those who were having to embark on a similar journey.
I am one of the lucky ones. I never did get cancer. I have had incredible surgery and I have removed all fear. BUT….
I have two small children and every time I look at them I wonder whether I have passed this gene onto them. It is 50/50 whether or not they have it. They are aged 4 years and 6 years. They are still very little but I know that in a blink of an eye they will be in their twenties and having to consider genetic testing. I cannot just sit back and hope that in the near future someone somewhere may do some fundraising to help support some sort of research project into the behaviour of this gene.
This is where Prevent Breast Cancer comes in…
I was thrilled to hear that there was such a charity that dealt ONLY in the prevention and prediction of breast cancer. A charity that had the facilities to really focus on this gene and to help carry out research that my help protect our future generations. I made a vow to my family that every year I would try and raise some money for Prevent Breast Cancer. Last year I organised a Black Tie Christmas Ball and was delighted to be able to send Professor Evans cheques amounting to nearly £10,000. On the 5th May 2013 I am helping organise a “Bluebell Walk and Teddy Bear Hunt” and I have already booked the same venue for my Christmas 2014 Ball. When I wake at night and start to feel the familiar anxiety about my children’s future, I can now at least feel that in a tiny way I am doing something to help support this important charity and feel proud that I haven’t just left fundraising to somebody else. If we want breast cancer to be a disease of the past, each of us must play our part.