Former MasterChef winner Jane Devonshire was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2012. Raising money for further research is something very close to her heart, which is why she is hosting an Afternoon Tea. 

Jane stands in her kitchen with a big smile on her face. She has shoulder-length blonde hair, glasses, and is wearing a yellow top.

I’m still here 10 years after being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer 

I was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. I did the classic thing: I'd been checking myself in the shower after a New Year’s party that we’d had, and I found a pea-sized lump. I remember it vividly.  

I went to the doctor and was originally told I was fine. I felt uncomfortable about it, though, so I ended up going back and getting a referral to the breast clinic. I was then given a mammogram, and we found out that it was actually a small lump covering a much larger lump. 

I needed a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was a rough year, but I got through it. 

As I was coming up to my five-year ‘all clear’, I started feeling really tired all the time and just not myself. It was then discovered that I had secondaries in my liver. I needed a liver resection, which was quite brutal, but I'm still here 10 years later, so I celebrate that I was able to access treatment. 

Breast Cancer Now helped me when I needed it most 

I've worked with Breast Cancer Now for a long time – since before I was on MasterChef, even – because they supported me when I wasn’t very well. Of all the help they offer, it was their Helpline that I found most useful. 

Sometimes, when you’re at your lowest and you can’t speak to those you love dearest, you need someone to turn to who understands what’s happening, and that’s where Breast Cancer Now’s Helpline is so fantastic.  

Going through treatment is quite a lonely time, even if you’re surrounded by loved ones, so it was really valuable to have someone I could always talk to. 

Plus, if I found myself feeling awful in the middle of the night, I knew I could go online and read through the Forum or some of the personal stories. All those things were incredibly important resources to me around the time I was first diagnosed. 

I’m hosting an Afternoon Tea to raise money breast cancer research 

In more recent years, though, what’s become more important to me is all the research that goes into finding new treatments for this horrible disease. And the more I've become involved with the charity, the more I've seen the range of research they fund, and how vitally important all of it is to those of us who are affected by breast cancer.  

Around one in seven women in the UK will get breast cancer at some point, which means that almost everyone knows someone who has been affected. 

It is absolutely vital to support charities like Breast Cancer Now, especially as the sector has been hit so hard during the pandemic. Not only does the charity support people while they’re going through treatment, it also conducts research that will hopefully stop people from suffering like this in the future. 

With that in mind, getting involved with Afternoon Tea was a bit of a no-brainer, as it involves all the things I’m passionate about. I think it’s lovely that you can raise money and awareness for a charity that’s so close to your heart over food with friends - which is the best way to talk about anything!  

It’s the getting together with loved ones that I always look forward to the most, but particularly after what’s been happening the last couple of years with COVID. It's a joy to actually be able to get together and celebrate – not just what Breast Cancer Now has been doing, but also the personal triumphs we’ve had over breast cancer. 

The most important thing is to enjoy yourself! 

For anyone who is thinking of hosting an Afternoon Tea, my biggest tip would be: don’t stress. I don’t think it matters how much or how little you do, or whether you’ve baked things yourself, whether you have lots of help or do it entirely alone – the important thing is just to do it. 

Personally, I love cooking, so I am happy to make everything from scratch, but I know it’s not for everyone. I wouldn’t want anyone to think they haven’t done their event ‘properly’ because they chose to go with shop-bought cakes, because that’s not what Afternoon Tea is about. 

The idea of the occasion is to put some good into the world and enjoy it, so make sure you manage to do that! 

 

If Jane's story has inspired you to host an Afternoon Tea of your own, we'd love to have you on board! Sign up today and we'll send you everything you need to start the party.

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