Maureen Dillon is doing something legendary. After losing her close friend Tess to breast cancer, she’s decided to leave a gift in her will to Breast Cancer Now. And that gift will help us bring forward the day when no one has to face a future without the woman they love. Maureen is a living legend – and you can be too.
“When I met Tess, I knew she was in remission from breast cancer,” says Maureen. “She was first diagnosed at 28. Many years later, when Tess was in her 50s, she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.”
Maureen and Tess were part of a group of five friends. They were all social workers, appointed as guardians to represent children at care proceedings in court. The group were more than work colleagues, they were friends who supported one another during thick and thin.
“‘The sisterhood’ we’d call ourselves!” Maureen laughs. “We’ve been a support to each other through the crises in each other’s lives.”
On a weekend away together on the Isle of Wight, Tess told Maureen and their friends the latest outcome from her consultation at the doctors. Tess talked about a difficult decision she was facing, as she had been told that she had a limited life expectancy. She had to decide whether or not to have treatment which would give her more time to live so she could see her youngest daughter through her GCSEs. Tess eventually made the brave decision to have the treatment.
Unfortunately, Tess died from breast cancer just two weeks before her daughter took her exams.
Finding strength together
“When we went to the funeral, it was in very municipal surroundings and that isn’t how we wanted to remember Tess,” says Maureen. “When Tess was still alive, there was an occasion when we all went to the Watts Memorial Chapel in Compton, Surrey. We all thought it was beautiful. It is decorated with Pre-Raphaelite angels which remind us of her – Tess was so graceful and had lovely wavy hair. We decided it was the perfect venue to remember Tess, so we go there together around the anniversary of the date she died.”
The Watts Memorial became an annual gathering, where the four friends would honour Tess’s memory and support one another to ease the pain of losing her.
“Later, we invited Tess’s husband and their three children, then her nieces and eventually her grandchildren. I’m sad she didn’t live to see her grandchildren.” Maureen and Tess’s friends planted six trees at the memorial, as a lasting tribute to the solid friendship of Tess being part of ‘The Sisterhood’.
A marker for the future
Maureen decided to put a gift in her will supporting breast cancer research because of Tess, and for Tess’s daughter.
As there’s a history of cancer in Tess’s family, Tess feared that her daughter would go through the same as her. Tess hoped that breast cancer research would be able to help her daughter, so she would never have to face what she had.
“My gift is also for all the women I’ve known with breast cancer,” says Maureen. “Some of whom have done extremely well, with no recurrence even many years later.”
Tess’s loss will never leave Maureen, but she has learned important lessons from her grief. “Tell those people who are close to you all the things you love about them now; it will be something for them to remember and treasure when you are gone.”
Remember a Charity
Every year, more and more people like Maureen choose to leave a gift to charity in their will. It’s a very special way for people who care about a cause to continue their support, even after they’ve passed away.
Gifts in wills provide a vital source of income for Breast Cancer Now, helping us plan for the future and invest in long-term research. And that will mean we can bring forward the day when no one has to face the future without the women they love. That’s why we’re taking part in Remember a Charity in your Will Week.
You might think you have to be wealthy to leave a gift in your will, but nothing could be further from the truth. After taking care of family and friends, you’ll be amazed at what one final gift, no matter how big or small, can do.
A gift of £5,000 to Breast Cancer Now could buy an incubator for our labs, so that our scientists can grow and experiment with cancer cells to see how they move around the body to form new tumours. With this understanding, they can develop new treatments to stop that process.
Supporting the future work of Breast Cancer Now is easier than you think. Take a look at our Gifts in Wills page for more information on how you can support Breast Cancer Now by leaving a gift in your will, or to request our Gifts in Wills information booklet.