Breast Cancer Care has appointed a new Chair Cardiff-based employment lawyer Emma Burns who takes up the post this week.
Emma like her predecessor Jane Hinnrichs has had breast cancer herself and will be the charity’s youngest Chair to date.
Diagnosed in 2001 when she was just 30 with a six-year-old son and working full time she says that being so young and having no family history her diagnosis 'came right out of the blue'.
'Having had my own diagnosis I understand only too well the impact of breast cancer. It affected me my son and partner wider family friends and work colleagues.
In the short term it meant a year of aggressive treatment; facing the fear of death and losing my confidence.
Medium term I have had to cope with uncertainty and continuing to live as a patient.
In the long term I have had to come to terms with not being able to complete my family as I would have liked as I had hoped for a second child.'
Emma has used many of our services: the free confidential Helpline publications and recently updated Younger Women’s Standards of Care. The latter is a campaigning tool for better support and information which Emma says helped her to feel more confident when breast cancer initially made her feel very disempowered.
A trustee since 2008 Emma started out after treatment as a volunteer for Breast Cancer Care’s one-to-one telephone service Someone Like Me supporting others after a diagnosis. She has also volunteered reviewing publications and being an active member of the campaigning network Breast Cancer Voices.
Emma describes herself as very lucky. She says:
'Because of the work of Breast Cancer Care I was breast aware enough to recognise the lump in my breast at 30 and confident enough to see my GP about it.
The single biggest factor in my recovery has been meeting other women and men through the charity who have also had breast cancer and sharing our experiences.
As a result of my voluntary work I have had the privilege to meet people living with secondary breast cancer or who have very sadly died from breast cancer. That has really opened my eyes to the really devastating impact of this disease. '
Jane Hinnrichs a communications expert steps down as Chair of Breast Cancer Care after six years and describes it as having been 'one of the greatest privileges of my life.' She oversaw a period during which the charity has focused on delivering better value for money and tailoring services to reach people as effectively as possible. She says our work on secondary breast cancer and user involvement were highlights of her tenure. 'We have done as much as anyone to raise the profile of the hell that is secondary breast cancer' she adds.
On taking up her new post Emma said:
'This is a very exciting time for Breast Cancer Care. The past few years have been a very difficult and testing time in terms of the fundraising environment for us like so many in the sector. Yet we’ve still managed to expand our reach. Now with a new brand and further investment in our services we’ve got the opportunity to build on what we’ve done take it further and reach even more people.'