This week has been about mental health for me* but this month (at least in the UK) and for some every day is about breast cancer.
My mother suffered from breast cancer but was very very very lucky. It was caught very early on and despite a hideous time she is now well. I also know that whilst it was a incredibly hard time for her, it was incredibly hard for all around her. I remember sitting** in an exam and could barely focus because I knew she was half way through a 12 hour operation. It is awful and difficult for everyone involved but I can only imagine how difficult it actually is to be told you have cancer and then try and fight it.***
Cancer is a very emotive disease and for me hits very close to home. I'm not trying to garner sympathy for myself - I can't imagine any of you don't have similar stories. I know that many (most even) people cannot talk about their experiences but if I have learnt anything in the past week, for me talking is good.
However, in my family all of my first degree deceased relatives have died of cancer. I still find myself close to tears when I think of how I watched my Mamgu and then my Grandpa die in so much pain. My mother's father died in his late forties on her 21st birthday. The story of his diagnosis and death haunts me and possibly my future children. Cancer is a terrible thing but it can be beaten. My mother and her doctors are a testament to that.
However, not everyone is so "lucky" and sadly far too many women (and men up to 1% of breast cancers) are dying. Dying because we just do not know enough.
What can you do?
I know it often feels like you are helpless to do anything that donating money is just a drop in the ocean (and without wanting to sound trite) but without each drop there is no ocean.
Every penny counts. It's the ocean which will help us develop better treatments, discover cleverer surveillance programs and perhaps help you in the future. Remember 1 in 9 women will suffer from some form of breast cancer.
I'm not here to scare you with statistics but please check your breasts. Get to know your breasts. They change from week to week. They belong to you and you should know when they feel lumpy or not but feel free to have you husband or wife or lover help you check them too. Don't make it a chore.
This is a very simple guide to get you started but know if you are still having periods your breasts may feel more lumpy during shark week. I know I am guilty of not checking on a regular basis. However if you do notice any changes please just go and see you GP. They deal with this all the time and are happy to help. It's their job. Also remember if you find a lump it doesn't mean you have cancer. Just make sure you talk to your doctor. Please don't ignore it.
I want you to know about London Bride's amazing campaign. Whilst I can think I want to do something, how great is it that she has gone and done something. We should all get on with the doing and not just the thinking.****
Look at her amazing Heartfelts. Such a clever sweet idea. She makes you a sweet little plump heart for you to wear with pride and in return you donate £4 (with an extra £1 for p&p) to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. A tiny £5 and you can make a difference. A great difference.
Also, wouldn't these would just be the best wedding favour? I know the boys would love them too. I must get Bean and his boys to wear one or two each. You get to donate money to a worthy charity and something super cute which your guests will love and keep for a long time.
So chop, chop. Let's get to it.
I have put in my little order, have you? I hope we can all send Charley a picture of us wearing them so she can see how much she's achieved. All of us together showing our support for men and women everywhere.
Yay for Heartfelts and Charley.
*I will be talking about it more because I find it very sad that it is often brushed aside and not talked about. I want to talk and try and do something. There be ideas in the pipeline.
**well actually it was a practical for my Obstetrics and Gynaecology (bleurgh) final.***I've been taught and I can try to empathise but I will never know until it happens to me.
****Tempted for that to be my new mantra.