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Even though Clare and two of her sisters had already experienced breast cancer, they were unable to help when another sister needed chemotherapy. In searching for support, they ended up making great friends, and now volunteer for the Pink Ribbon Walks together.
We’ve had breast cancer in our family for a very long time. Our auntie died from it in her forties and our mum was diagnosed in her early seventies, eventually passing away when she was 76.
Six months after she died, I was diagnosed myself. At the time I was 32, and the youngest of five sisters. That was 24 years ago and - since then - three of my four sisters have all suffered from it too. I’m relieved to say, we’re all still here.
Despite this long history, I first really got involved in the Pink Ribbon Walks after my last sister to be diagnosed, Eileen, discovered she had breast cancer.
Even though three of us had also been through treatment by that point, we were lucky enough not to have endured chemotherapy. So, whilst we could support and encourage Eileen with our experience of mastectomies, reconstruction, radiotherapy, and hormone treatment, none of us could help her with that particular aspect.
Thankfully, she met a bunch of lovely ladies on one of the chemotherapy forums. They were all a massive support to each other and have kept in touch long after their treatment finished.
The group decided to do the Chatsworth Pink Ribbon Walk together, coming from all different parts of the country to raise money by doing the 20-mile walk! It was actually Eileen who suggested that I should volunteer at the walk, as we’d both done some ‘bucket shaking’ before and she knew how much I’d enjoyed doing it.
When the day came, I was teamed up with a great bunch of people, all with our various stories of how we’d been touched by cancer and how we’d come to volunteer.
I had one of the most memorable days ever at a fabulous sunny Chatsworth: struggling to put up a gazebo, cutting up oranges, cheering walkers on at the finish line, and just having the best time, laughing our heads off all the way through.
It was such a rewarding experience, and the following year one of my friends joined me too!
We weren’t quite so lucky with the weather that time, but looked very fetching in our plastic ponchos (we thought), and had another absolutely fantastic day!
We’re both volunteering again this year, and I can’t recommend it enough. We can’t all walk those miles, or raise all the sponsorship money, but it’s still a great way to contribute to this fantastic organisation.