Beverley has been a devoted volunteer for 10 years. During this time, she’s got involved with local Moving Forward courses and given speeches to local fundraisers. We asked Beverley about her breast cancer experience, why she volunteers and the impact her volunteering has on her community.
Can you tell us about your connection to breast cancer?
About 6 months before my diagnosis, I noticed crusting on my left nipple while showering but I thought it might be a menopausal symptom. I then started to lose weight which I was rather happy about at the time. And in February 2013, I noticed a small pea sized lump in my left armpit. But again, I wasn't too concerned, as I had a sebaceous cyst removed from the same armpit at 21.
I got checked by my GP and they quickly referred me to an NHS breast clinic. I needed a mammogram, an ultrasound and 3 biopsies, and a week later, I was diagnosed with Grade II HER2 positive breast cancer with extra lymph node spread. I was 57.
On 1 May 2013, I had a mastectomy and lymph node removal with immediate reconstruction. Recovery seemed to go well until an infection almost led to sepsis, then I had an anaphylactic shock in reaction to antibiotics. So they needed to totally remove the reconstruction. After I recovered and finished chemo and radiotherapy, I was discharged with the usual follow-up with the consultant. But I had no support on what was next.
Why did you decide to become a Moving Forward volunteer?
During my recovery, I met someone who’d had breast cancer at the same time. After her treatment, she did Breast Cancer Now’s Moving Forward group course, led by volunteers, about adjusting to normal life. As someone who had no peer support or information after my treatment, it sounded like a really needed service.
I’m a qualified coach, in-house trainer and a clinical hypnotherapist, and I thought I could be helpful, so I took the leap and decided to volunteer myself.
As a volunteer, what do you get involved in?
Most of my volunteering is with local Moving Forward courses. I meet and greet attendees to the course and help them feel comfortable, and I introduce them to others.
As well as Moving Forward, I’ve started attending meetings held by local fundraising groups, to give speeches about Breast Cancer Now and talk about my own experience.
How does your work impact people in the community?
For Moving Forward, I help connect like-minded people in the community, during what could be a lonely time. Some people make amazing friendships from the course.
And by visiting local fundraising groups, I can show just how much Breast Cancer Now value their support. And I think it motivates groups to really work together, as one.
What do you enjoy most about each of your roles?
I love how rewarding my Moving Forward work can be. I help give people knowledge, confidence and sometimes new friends, so they don’t need to feel lost or self-conscious anymore. I’m very proud to call myself a volunteer for Breast Cancer Now.
And I love being able to meet new people, whoever and wherever they are.
If Beverley’s story has inspired you to get involved, take a look at our volunteering opportunities. There are lots of ways to help people feel supported and connected. Every role can make a difference to the community around you.