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My mum hid her breast cancer symptoms for so long – by the time she was diagnosed, it was already too late

Chris’ mum, Gill, died of secondary breast cancer in March this year. He tells us about the wonderful person she was, as well as how he is raising money for others in her memory.

Chris’ mum, Gill, died of secondary breast cancer in March this year. He tells us about the wonderful person she was, as well as how he is raising money for others in her memory. 

Mum didn’t tell anyone about her breast cancer symptoms 

In 2020, my mum was awaiting an operation for a hip replacement which had been rearranged a number of times due to COVID-19. She finally went for a pre-op in October 2020, after which the doctor wrote to her saying they had found something they didn’t like and wanted her to make another appointment.  

My mum hid the letter as she was so scared. Unbeknownst to us, she also had wounds from surface-level tumours on her breast that she hadn’t told anyone about. 

Then, in February 2021, she woke up and one of her eyes wouldn’t open. She could still see through it but was unable to move or open her eye. We thought it was a stroke at first, but unfortunately tests showed there were lesions behind her eye.  

A couple of days later, secondary breast cancer was confirmed. I took her out the following day and we were talking about her treatment options. At the same time, she was buying birthday cards for the family for the whole of the year. She was very scared, but it was almost as if she had made her peace with it. 

She died before she could start treatment 

We rallied round to support her. We spoke every day and I saw her as often as I could. My Dad tried his hardest to care for her, but her health deteriorated quite quickly. He was so upset – his best friend for 46 years was going through so much and he felt a bit helpless.  

We all tried to stay positive and regularly discussed the treatment. We gave positive reinforcement to the fact that they’d offered chemotherapyradiotherapy and immunotherapy; although I think my mum knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.  

In the end, the cancer progressed so quickly that she didn’t get the opportunity to start treatment. She passed away on 24 March. 

I lost my nan and grandad both to cancer years ago, which was obviously upsetting, but you almost expect to lose people when they reach a certain age. However, to lose my mum when she was only 62 was a massive shock. I was and still am absolutely devastated. 

Mum wanted us to raise money for charity at her funeral 

My mum was such a selfless person who lived for her family. She was an amazing wife to my dad; they made a great team! She was supportive of my brother and me, and always worked so hard to give us the best of everything. She was a devoted grandma to my children and she had the biggest heart. I miss her so much! 

Before she passed away, she said she wanted us to choose a charity for donations instead of flowers at her funeral. I had seen things about Breast Cancer Now on Facebook so I suggested it to my dad and brother. We set the target to £150, but ended up raising over £1800! It was such a success. 

After that, I felt inspired to raise more money for the charity.  

I was signed up to compete in Ironman UK in July 2021 which is a 2.6 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride then a 26.2 mile run. My plan was to get sponsors for this, but I was unfortunately injured and unable to compete - so this is on hold until 2022, with training commencing soon.  

We held a Euro 2020 party at work when England reached the final, and I introduced Breast Cancer Now to my workplace who donated some of the money raised.  

I also started to do the 100km bike and 10 mile swim throughout July, but injury struck again and I was unable to finish – although sponsors did continue to come in! I intend to complete the challenge in November now instead. 

I have encountered setbacks, but raising money for Breast Cancer Now has been amazing 

The highlights so far have definitely been the level of support I have received and the amount of money I have been able to raise in such a short time. Two injuries setting back my sporting challenges, the latest resulting in a full reconstruction of my shoulder joint, have definitely been lowlights - but I am nothing if not determined! 

To anyone else considering raising money for Breast Cancer Now, I would say absolutely do it. It’s a great way to set your mind to something and make the most of your time – the feeling from making a difference is fantastic.  


As Chris has demonstrated, there are many ways to raise money for Breast Cancer Now. One of the simplest ways you can help us is by setting up a fund in memory of a loved one who has passed away from breast cancer. 

Learn more about funds in memory

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