When Polly Barnes lost her mum, Debbie, to breast cancer, she decided to set up a Fund in Memory in her name. The money raised through her fund is helping us make sure that one day, every woman who develops breast cancer will live.
Mum was in her early 40s when she first got breast cancer, and I was only just old enough to understand what that meant. I was at university when I found out it had come back. She called me to say that she had cancer, and that it wasn't going to get better.
I don’t really remember much of the next two years. All I know is that she tried to do everything in the same way and with the same infectious spirit as before. She never complained until the very end – and I know that she was protecting us.
She had chemotherapy about six months before she died, in the hope of being able to spend some more time with us. That time was incredibly precious, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t heart-breaking too. The day she chose to shave her hair was really hard for all of us.
Mum was just awesome - such a big, big personality. She had this amazing ability to bring people together and make them feel wanted. She was a fierce mum, a fierce friend, full of advice, impossible to forget.
She was absolutely determined that her illness wouldn't hold us back. She pushed me, my dad and my sister to try new things, say yes, enjoy life, work hard and have fun. And, as usual, she was absolutely right.
After she died I was determined to show her all the things that I could achieve. I moved back to London, auditioned for one of the top choirs in the country, ran the London Marathon and landed my dream job. It’s entirely thanks to her that I found the courage I needed to continue living my life to the full.
Why I set up a Fund in Memory
Losing such a huge presence in your life really makes you want to do something about it. We needed something good to come out of our heart-break.
My husband and I set up our Fund in Memory when we were getting married and decided to ask for donations instead of presents. It was incredibly special because it allowed mum to be part of our wedding in some way. Since then, we’ve continued to raise money and I’ve been amazed by the support we’ve received.
It’s critical that we fund research because we need to face up to breast cancer – it’s the only way that we’re going to stop so many other families from going through what we have.
The fund is an everlasting memory and it makes me really proud to see how much money we’ve raised with mum’s name on it. If anything good can come out of her passing away, it’s that.
What is a Fund in Memory?
A Fund in Memory is a unique online page designed for anyone who’s lost a loved one to breast cancer. It allows people just like Polly to celebrate a loved one’s life and share stories, treasured memories, photos and messages of support with friends and family.
By starting a fund, you’ll also be raising money for life-saving research so that, one day, no other family will have to face a future without the person they love. It’s easy to set up a Fund in Memory.
Simply visit inmemory.breastcancernow.org or contact us on 0333 20 70 300.