While in lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, Jennifer decided she wanted to do something to support her friends who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Two of my friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer
Both my friends are young. Their diagnoses were so unexpected. In January last year, one of my really good friends found out she had breast cancer. She was unwell for about six months, and at times we thought it might be the end of the road for her. Thankfully, she is now in remission.
However, since then, another friend – who again is very young – has also been diagnosed. She’s had just started her chemotherapy.
It really hit home for me, as I’m the same age and we both have young children. My heart really breaks for her.
I decided I wanted to help somehow
I’d started to feel a bit lethargic during lockdown, as I haven’t been working. I run my own football coaching business and obviously that hasn’t been able to continue right now.
I was just laying in bed one morning and I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something’.
So I set myself a challenge: for 30 consecutive days, I would run at least 5k a day. I run anyway, but I wanted to make it a bit harder for myself. For the first few days, I stuck to the 5k, but – gradually – I started increasing it. On my 15th day, the halfway point, I ran a half marathon.
I really committed to my fundraising
In order to encourage people to sponsor me, I would blog about my runs every day. I shared pictures and screenshots from Strava (just to prove I had actually gone the distance!) and made sure to share it all on Facebook.
I thought I’d be realistic and set myself a target of £500, but we’ve actually managed to more than double it.
The support has just been phenomenal – especially from my two friends who have been affected by breast cancer. They didn’t actually know each other before but, on my last run (a 10k which I managed to complete in 53 minutes), they were both waiting for me at the ‘finish line’!
We were all still socially distanced, of course, but they got to meet each other and speak and say hello (sending an air hug). It was all very emotional, and there were a few tears.
Everyone moved heaven and Earth to get support for me on my last run, and as I came along my street at the end I saw loads of people lined up to cheer me on. It was absolutely incredible.
Breast Cancer Now is such a meaningful cause
It was my friend who is now in recovery that inspired me to raise money for Breast Cancer Now.
I know there are services offered to younger women in particular, which means a lot to my friends who are not in the typical age group for people with breast cancer.
Despite COVID-19, I still made it happen
Because this was a solo challenge, it hasn’t been massively affected by COVID-19 because I was still able to follow distancing guidelines – but I do think perhaps I could have raised a bit more if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic. Financially, this time has been hard for a lot of people, but I’m still amazed at how much I did raise.
For anyone else thinking of fundraising, I’d say go for it. I would’ve been happy to just raise a bit of money for my friends, but it ended up being so much more.
Even if you only make £50, it’s still £50 more than you would have done without fundraising. And it’s good for your own mental wellbeing, especially right now while we’re not working.
I’d say that it’s definitely good to have a goal, something to push yourself towards. You might even find out that you can do 10 times better than you ever thought! Just stay consistent with it, and you’ll get there.
Being a younger woman with breast cancer can be an isolating experience, which is why we have services and support specifically for those under 45.