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Two women, Farida and Julie, hugging each other

Breast cancer made me realise how important friendship is

As part of M&S and Breast Cancer Now’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign, 11 women share their stories of the surprising and invaluable support they received after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Sophie, Lisa and Vic

3 women, Sophie, Lisa and Vic, holding hands and smiling

Lisa, Vic and Sophie were all diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, they all found each other through social media.

Lisa: I used to watch Vic talking about breast cancer on her Instagram Stories. I found it comforting because I agree with everything she was saying. I used to message her saying that I felt like we were going through the same thing. At the same time, Sophie and I were also messaging one another.

Sophie: When treatment finishes, a lot of people think you can just crack on. But if anything, I found it harder. The pressure is then just on you to get through it. Being part of this campaign has helped me to have a focus. We want to turn a negative into a positive and help raise awareness of breast cancer.

Vic: I feel honored to be a part of this campaign. All of us have had cancer diagnoses in the past two years, but we’re all still here and still happy.

Suzanne, Paula and Sara

3 women, Suzanne, Paula and Sara, sat close together on a sofa and smiling.

Suzanne was diagnosed with breast cancer just after her 50th birthday. Her neighbor Sara and her ex-husband's new wife Paula became her unexpected sources of support throughout treatment and beyond.  

Suzanne: At the beginning you feel so alone. You build up a wall because you’re so scared. I wanted to wrap myself up and go quiet. I hit a dark place.  I’ve come to realise that people are willing to go the extra mile and help you. You realise how much people care. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to Sara and Paula. I’ll never be the same person I was before, but on the positive side I’m a much better person. I realise how important friendships are.  

Sara: It’s made me realise how important my actions are. Even if I just spent a couple of second sending Suzanne a message to check in on her after treatment, it let her know that I was thinking of her.  

Paula: People are all too quick to cross the street when something like this happens, because cancer is difficult. Sometimes you need to have a difficult conversation. Sometimes you need to be there.  

Laura, Sarah and Sheli

Two women kiss the cheeks of a third woman sat in between them

Laura is 31 and living with secondary breast cancer. She was original diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2015 and has since received amazing support from her colleagues Sarah and Sheli.

Sarah: Laura was my first student! Her cancer diagnosis was so unexpected. I thought, ‘I can still do this. We can still do this’.

Sheli: I met Laura when I joined the same practice as her. I’d never met anybody so young with cancer before. I asked lots of questions and quickly realised we had a similar perspective on life: If you want something, you’ve got to go out and get it.

Laura: Everyone’s been absolutely amazing. I want people to know that a cancer diagnosis is not as scary as it sounds. There is support out there. I didn’t realise people would be as good as they have been. Here are two people who I wasn’t originally that close to who are now my best friends.

Farida and Julie

Two women, Farida and Julie, hugging each other

Farida and Julie became friends after breast cancer brought them together. They’ve since created a comedy and theatre show inspired by their shared experience of diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

Farida: Friends come in the most unexpected places. Julie helped me find myself again. We did the fun bits of my life before my diagnosis – simple things like going for a meal or a coffee and having a chat.

Julie: Everybody needs somebody, and friendship can get you through anything. It isn’t all doom and gloom.

 

In 2020, we partnered with M&S for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. M&S donated 25% from each purchase on selected M&S sleepwear products to fund our ground-breaking research into the prevention of cancer.

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