We asked Jill about her diagnosis, why she’s taking on a Pink Ribbon Walk, and how she’s fundraising. Our Pink Ribbon Walks are a great day out, no matter your fitness level. Walking either 10 or 20 miles, you can stroll through some of the UK’s most iconic scenery with other like-minded people, all brought together by breast cancer.
How did your diagnosis come about?
In 2020, I had a breast cancer diagnosis at age 43. I’d found a lump, but it was near my collar bone, so I never imagined it could be breast cancer.
My GP referred me to the breast clinic, where I had a mammogram, biopsies, and an ultrasound, and later on, a breast MRI scan. It turned out I had 3 tumours with a diagnosis of grade 3, stage 1 invasive breast cancer.
I needed a mastectomy and started my 10-year hormone treatment, with monthly ovarian suppression injections, bone infusions every 6 months, and more. And genetic testing showed I carried the BRCA1 mutation. This led to another mastectomy and a salpingo-oophorectomy, to lower my high risk of having breast cancer again. It was an overwhelming time but Breast Cancer Now’s support was invaluable.
How did we support you?
On the day of my diagnosis, I left the hospital armed with Breast Cancer Now's information leaflets. And I joined the online forum, where I got much needed advice from others who’d been through it. I gained much comfort from it, during a time with lots of surgery complications, medication side effects and unexpected twists and turns.
Later, I took part in an online Moving Forward course about life after breast cancer. And I joined Younger Women Together webinars where experts talk about being diagnosed as a younger woman.
I also used the Breast Cancer Now website to stay in-the-know about new research, and I still do. I'm thankful to Breast Cancer Now for campaigning to have the drug Olaparib approved in England. It’s now available for others who have breast cancer and a BRCA mutation.
How have you adjusted to life after breast cancer?
Life after cancer has had its challenges. It’s taken time to accept my post-surgery body and adapt to my new normal with medication side effects. I’m a strong believer in being positive, but of course, there have been tough days, which my husband and 2 boys have helped me get through.
I started to write poems which has helped me put my feelings into words and document my journey. I’ve now written 14 which I’ve put into a book, with all profits going to 3 cancer charities, including Breast Cancer Now. I want people to feel inspired and uplifted when reading my poems, because a positive attitude can be so helpful.
To mark the end of 3 years of hospital treatment, I set myself the challenge of a Pink Ribbon Walk, and my husband is joining me. I’m really pleased we can do it together – he has given me so much support.
Why is taking on the Pink Ribbon Walk important to you?
The walk will help me turn my diagnosis into something positive. And being surrounded by people who’ve gone through similar will be really special.
Above all, we’d love to raise money for Breast Cancer Now, to help the research continue and fund its support services.
Why did you choose the Pink Ribbon Walk?
Walking has been a huge part of my recovery so it was the perfect choice. With a diagnosis during COVID-19, walking was the only way I could spend time with friends and family, and it helped my physical and mental health.
We chose the Chatsworth House walk because Chatsworth and the Peak District are favourite places of ours. So, raising money whilst walking in a special place means so much to us.
How are you fundraising for the walk?
I set up a JustGiving page which talks about my story, and I’m sharing it through social media. So far, we’ve raised £500, and we’d love to raise more.
If you’d like to follow Jill’s footsteps, and help fund life-changing research and support, why not sign up to a Pink Ribbon Walk today?
We’ll be there on the day to support you, with a clear route, expert guides and plenty of snack stops to keep you going.