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Helping others is a massive part of my healing process

Married mum-of-two Donna is a Public Health volunteer for Breast Cancer Now. Here she tells us why helping others is a crucial step on her own path to recovery.

Married mum-of-two Donna is a Public Health volunteer for Breast Cancer Now. Here she tells us why helping others is a crucial step on her own path to recovery.

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate

I’m 49. My Mum had breast cancer 18 years ago, then I was diagnosed with it at the age of 46 after I’d found a lump. I had a malignant tumour that had spread to my lymph nodes.

I started six months of chemotherapy, then had a double mastectomy with lymph node removal and after that, radiotherapy every day for three weeks. Then I had biological therapy for a year. Now I’m on medication for at least the next 10 years.

Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. You can be old, young, a man, a woman, and still get it. I thought I was young at 46, but there are women in their twenties diagnosed with it and that’s really frightening because I’ve got children, and my oldest is 21.

Now a massive part of my recovery is helping others. I’m a massive believer that after something bad happens, something good must follow. I joined Breast Cancer Now as a Someone Like Me volunteer but last year I decided to become a Public Health volunteer too. Even if just one person goes to their GP to get checked out after one of my talks, then that makes it all worthwhile.

People don’t like talking about boobs – now boobs are all I talk about!

As a Public Health volunteer for Breast Cancer Now, I deliver Public Health talks to businesses, charities and community groups, and talk about breast cancer facts and figures, breast awareness, and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

It can be an interactive talk, and sometimes we have a bit of fun, but the message is serious. We highlight Breast Cancer Now’s Touch, Look, Check (TLC message), and we talk about the importance of checking yourself, and the signs and symptoms to look out for. It’s not too heavy, it’s all factual and we don’t want to frighten people. We just want to get the message out. People don’t like talking about boobs, and now boobs are all I talk about!

We also talk about causes of breast cancer and how you can reduce your risk, how to stay healthy, and the myths and misconceptions surrounding breast cancer.

If anything goes wrong, we laugh and start again

I delivered an online talk for a local council to ladies of all different ages. There was really good feedback and I really enjoyed it.

The host is responsible for setting the talk up. In this case, the local council had chosen Breast Cancer Now to raise awareness of breast cancer as part of their health week. It’s kept really simple for volunteers to deliver these talks, the hosts do everything preparation-wise. They sent me an invite to join their virtual event, I just start the talk and I’m in charge of all the slides.

I was a bit scared about giving a talk online, but it wasn’t hard and it went well. And if anything goes slightly wrong at the beginning, we just laugh about it and start again.

Never forget to TLC

The one message I’d like people to take away from my talks is to regularly Touch, Look, Check (TLC). I’d like them to say to themselves, ‘This is going to be part of my routine’, and to set a reminder that works for them, and get into the habit of checking themselves regularly.

A lot of people don’t check themselves for signs of breast cancer because it’s hard to think that it can happen to otherwise healthy people. I was fit, I went to the gym, I drank a lot of water, there was nothing wrong with me and then suddenly I found a lump. The doctor tells you that you’ve got breast cancer and you think, ‘But I’m not ill!’

The final stage of my healing is using my experience to help others Delivering Public Health talks and volunteering for Someone Like Me helps the people I talk to, but it helps me just as much.

Find out more

If anyone would like to find out more or book a Breast Cancer Now Public Health talk, visit


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