Dawn wearing pink top, smiling next to another lady

Unless cancer happens to you, you don’t understand the impact it has

Dawn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, when her child was just 10 years old. After attending Breast Cancer Now’s support programmes, she was inspired to volunteer, and has done some incredible fundraising with her Afternoon Tea event.

Dawn wearing pink top, smiling next to another lady

My child wanted to raise money for a breast cancer charity as soon as I was diagnosed 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. My child, Eve, was only 10 years old at the time, and they really wanted to do some fundraising to show their support.   

They planned the whole thing and set up a cake stall at their school. I couldn’t actually go to it myself because I was too poorly during chemotherapy, but the school sent me some photos and told me how it all went. They raised around £700 in the end!  

A year later, I went to a Younger Women Together event, and it completely changed my perspective on everything. I was in my early 40s when I was diagnosed, but everyone I’d met who’d had it was in their 70s. I couldn’t relate to them at all. Meeting other women around my age was such a powerful experience. It made me realise that I wanted to volunteer.   

I began by working on the Moving Forward programme and still volunteer for Someone Like Me, Younger Women Together and Here for You services. 

My own Afternoon Tea was only meant to be a small one, but then a friend got involved and it just snowballed. It ended up being so big that we had to host it in a local village hall.  

My event was so much more popular than I had expected  

For the week leading up to it, I’d been panicking that nobody would turn up. When the day actually arrived, we had people queueing outside all the way down through the village! It was ridiculous!  

The event went on for two hours, in which time we took £1500 on the cake stall alone. Even as we were selling things, more people were turning up to donate things they’d baked. I didn’t have any set prices for the cakes we sold, only suggested donations – but people often gave more than what we asked for.  

We also had 3 big tables of donated raffle and tombola prizes, and I sold a few things I’d made. I got into sewing during the first lockdown, so I made loats of boob face masks and purses, and they sold amazingly well! A friend had sent me some crocheted hats she’d made, too, which brought in some extra donations.  

On top of that, I ran a ‘bling up your bra’ competition. People decorated their bras and I hung them all up on a washing line so that everybody could see them. I actually got the idea for it from the Afternoon Tea Facebook group, and it went down really well.  

I’ve no idea how many people came, but in total we made about £3,000.  

Purses with breast illustrations on them

Raising money for breast cancer research is so important  

Last year, I climbed Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England) dressed as a giant boob and raised over £2654 for Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now.   

I'm planning to do another Afternoon Tea this summer and maybe another fundraiser. My last Afternoon Tea had such a lovely community feel to it, especially as we’d all been in lockdown for so long.   

Whatever people do, I think it’s so important to support Breast Cancer Now because it's a lifeline for so many people. It was a lifeline for me, certainly – I think I would’ve gone a bit stir crazy without their services and peer support.  

As well as the care aspect, however, there’s also the research.   

I've lost some very good friends to secondary breast cancer who were diagnosed around the same time I was. It really brings it into perspective, that with more research and treatments in development, hopefully we can help stop losing loved ones to breast cancer.  

Fundraising doesn’t have to be big or complicated  

Unless cancer happens to you, or someone very close to you, you can’t really understand the impact it has on a person. But I do know, and it’s put a real fire in my belly to keep fundraising. Not just for people with breast cancer, but also for Eve. I want to be around as long as I can for them, so I’m going to raise as much as I can for breast cancer research.  

Fundraising doesn’t have to be a big thing, either. Sometimes, just doing silly things like wearing a boob headband or dyeing your hair pink can get you a lot of donations. I often dye my hair vivid bright pink and, because I live in quite a small village, it attracts a lot of attention and begins a conversation around breast cancer and the importance of self-checking.  

Starting that conversation can have a huge impact. You never know who it might reach, or who it might help.   


So, if you can fundraise, I strongly recommend getting involved. It can be something as simple as setting up a JustGiving fundraiser on your birthday (which you can do from your sofa!) or putting on an event for Afternoon Tea.   

No matter how much or how little you raise, it all goes towards a fantastic cause. 


Register for this year’s Afternoon Tea

If you've been inspired by Dawn's story and want to host your own Afternoon Tea, we'd love to have you fundraising with us.

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