Julia at her afternoon tea event

My first thoughts were, "How do I explain this to the girls?”

Julia, a mother to 2 young daughters, was diagnosed with Stage 2, Grade 3, HER2-positive breast cancer in April 2022 at the age of 41.

My daughters’ biggest fear was of me losing my hair 

I’ve been married for 10 years and have 2 young daughters, aged 6 and 9. When I got my diagnosis, my first thoughts were, "How do I explain this to the girls?" and "Will I be around to see them grow up?" 

It turns out their biggest fear was of me losing my hair. Actually, neither of them asked me about dying, which is what I had expected.  

I had 6 rounds of chemotherapy and wore the cold cap for each one. It worked really well for me and, I managed to keep most of my hair, which helped the girls cope a lot better; because I still looked like “Mummy”.  

I often looked “well” and pushed myself to “get up and carry on” 

Unfortunately, this meant that many people, myself included, really underestimated how ill I was during chemo and beyond.  

I had a lumpectomy in October 2022 and 15 rounds of radiotherapy over December and January.  

I think I surprised a lot of people, including myself, for how I handled the diagnosis and treatment. "Strong" and "resilient" are words that have often cropped up when talking about it over the past year. 

I went to one of Breast Cancer Now’s Moving Forward courses 

During my treatment, I adopted the “head down, get on with it” approach, but then I had to deal with the fallout afterwards.  

I had an almighty emotional and mental break within a week of finishing radiotherapy, which I found harder to manage at times than the physical side effects of treatment. 

Around the same time, at the start of 2023, the Moving Forward course was taking place, so it was very useful in helping me process and accept what I’d just been through. It was a bit of a trek to get to, but well worth it. 

You can find out more about the Moving Forward courses, along with Breast Cancer Now’s other support services, on their website. 

My Afternoon Tea was a celebration of my treatment coming to an end  

It was also an opportunity to thank the people who had stood by and supported me during my treatment. 

I invited friends, work colleagues and neighbours to the party. So many people offered donations for the raffle and bought tickets. Some people made donations, even if they couldn't attend on the day.  

I got lots of support from businesses, including party supplies, strawberries and cakes from supermarkets, homemade scones and clotted cream from a local hotel (where I did my work experience aged 15!), and much more.  

The weather was kind to us, thankfully (the weeks leading up to it were horrendous). Everyone had a lovely time in the garden, eating cake and doing the quizzes and games that I downloaded from the Afternoon Tea website. I raised over £600 which is far more than I expected! 

I roped my sister into making drinks, a friend to take photos, my mum to do the raffle and another friend to lead the quiz. It was absolutely exhausting, but people were so kind and generous, it made it all worthwhile.  

Julia's Afternoon Tea

I was happy to raise money for such a deserving charity 

Breast Cancer Now had been a real help following my diagnosis, so I wanted to support them with my Afternoon Tea.  

I believe that the more resources that are made available for people who find themselves in a similar position, the better. I’ve always been good at searching out help and guidance, but I know it’s not the same for everyone. At times it felt as though you really had to look for support rather than it being presented to you, and when you're in the midst of a trauma, having to go and find help for yourself is not ideal.  

The work that charities like Breast Cancer Now do is so invaluable, making support easily accessible to everyone. 

Take part in this year’s Afternoon Tea

If you've been inspired by Julia's story and want to host your own Afternoon Tea, we'd love for you to get involved. 

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