Nic does not have any personal experience of breast cancer, so she learnt a lot when her company hosted one of Breast Cancer Now’s Public Health Talks. She shares her experience of the talk, as well as why she hopes other organisations will get involved. 

A group of women from the Women in Property group, all dressed up and posing for a photo at their fundraising event

Photo: some of the staff at Women in Property at their annual dinner.

We came to know Breast Cancer Now through a different event 

I am the current North West Chair of Women in Property, an organisation which was formed in 1987. We work with women in the property sector, which has historically been – and still is – quite a male-dominated industry.  

We have 10 regional branches, and each region organises various events. One of the biggest ones we have is our annual dinner, and last year we had Lisa Riley as the compère for the evening. That’s how we originally came to know about Breast Cancer Now, as she is a patron of the charity. 

She asked us if we would be happy to raise money for the charity on the night, which we did, and I have to say it was the highest amount we’ve ever raised through this sort of event! As we’re a charitable organisation ourselves, we don’t do a great deal of fundraising, but times are changing and non-profits are beginning to collaborate a bit more (which is excellent to see). 

When we presented the cheque to Breast Cancer Now at another one of our events, the representative who came along mentioned the Public Health Talks and asked if we might be interested in one.  

So, we got to organising it. 

I knew very little about breast cancer until recently 

The talk was very straightforward, and the whole thing was online. A volunteer with Breast Cancer Now – someone who had gone through breast cancer herself – took us through her story and how her breast cancer had developed. Then she showed us some diagrams and explained to us the signs and symptoms that we should be looking out for.  

We also had a question-and-answer session at the end, which a lot of people found really useful. There were about 50 or 60 people on the call, so we mostly used the chat box function but some people felt comfortable enough to raise their hands and ask the questions aloud. Some questions are just easier to explain by talking them out, too, so it was good that we had that option. 

I’m very fortunate in that I haven’t had any personal experience with breast cancer. However, during lockdown, Linda, one of my colleagues, was diagnosed. Up until then, I didn’t really know anything about it, but I’ve learnt a bit more through her.  

Even now, though, some of the processes and technical jargon goes over my head, but that’s why it was such a good opportunity to have that talk. 

Using an online platform made everything so easy 

In the past, our organisation hasn’t had much interaction between regions, but COVID has meant that everything has gone online. Even though we’ve been able to resume those in-person events now, we’ve kept the online platform for events such as the Public Health Talk. It just allows for a wider reach of people. 

It also makes things so much easier. I’ll be honest: sometimes things are so busy, you don’t have time to travel anywhere, so you might not go to these things. Plus, if you’re in a big room with lots of people, you might not want to ask questions, but having chat box facilities allows for more discussion from people who may not normally share things. 

In our Public Health Talk, some people were comfortable enough to share their own personal experiences, too, which was a really valuable insight. 

Everyone, not just women, should hear these talks 

One of the most valuable things I learned from the talk was that, when you check yourself, you should be feeling your upper chest area as well as your breasts and under your arms.  

I also remember there being some discussion of the importance of continuing to check yourself even after your regular mammograms are stopped. One of the people in our talk mentioned that her mum had developed breast cancer when she was quite a bit older, but was still able to get treated successfully because she’d checked herself and caught it before it spread. It really struck me how important it is to always be aware of it. 

If we get the opportunity to have another talk, I’d love to extend the invitation to even more people within our organisation. I think it’s so important to keep these things at the front of people’s minds; women in particular, but also men - because learning about these things helps you understand what other people go through.  

Everybody handles breast cancer differently, and there are obviously support networks like Breast Cancer Now out there, but it also helps to know what someone else is going through. That’s one of the things I learned from Linda, actually. Just talking to someone who understands things is so important. 

 

If you are part of a company, organisation or group that could benefit from a Public Health Talk, we would love to speak to you. Book your talk today or reach out to us for more information.

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