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Dawn was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, when her child was just 10 years old. After attending Breast Cancer Now’s support programmes, she was inspired to volunteer, and has done some incredible fundraising with her Afternoon Tea event.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. My child, Eve, was only 10 years old at the time, and they really wanted to do some fundraising to show their support.
They planned the whole thing themself and set up a cake stall at their school. I couldn’t actually go to it myself because I was too poorly during chemotherapy, but the school sent me some photos and told me how it all went. They raised around £700 in the end!
A year later, I went to a Younger Women Together event, and it completely changed my perspective on everything. I was in my early 40s when I was diagnosed, but everyone I’d met who’d had it was in their 70s. I couldn’t relate to them at all. Meeting other women around my age was such a powerful experience. It made me realise that I wanted to volunteer.
My own Afternoon Tea was only meant to be a small one, but then a friend got involved and it just snowballed. It ended up being so big that we had to host it in a local village hall.
For the week leading up to it, I’d been panicking that nobody would turn up. When the day actually arrived, we had people queueing outside all the way down through the village! It was ridiculous!
The event went on for two hours, in which time we took £1500 on the cake stall alone. Even as we were selling things, more people were turning up to donate things they’d baked. I didn’t have any set prices for the cakes we sold, only suggested donations – but people often gave more than what we asked for.
We also had three big tables of donated raffle and tombola prizes, and I sold a few things I’d made. I got into sewing during the first lockdown, so I made loads of boob face masks and purses, and they sold amazingly well! A friend had sent me some crocheted hats she’d made, too, which brought in some extra donations.
On top of that, I ran a ‘bling up your bra’ competition. People decorated their bras and I hung them all up on a washing line so that everybody could see them. I actually got the idea for it from an Afternoon Tea Facebook group, and it went down really well.
I’ve no idea how many people came, but in total we made about £3,000.
This year, I’m climbing Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England) dressed as a giant boob. I’m doing it with a friend, and we’re going to split the funds we raise between Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now.
I would like to do another Afternoon Tea next year, though. It had such a lovely community feel to it, especially as we’d all been in lockdown for so long.
Whatever people do, I think it’s so important to support Breast Cancer Now because it is a lifeline for so many people. It was a lifeline for me, certainly – I think I would’ve gone a bit stir crazy without their services and peer support.
As well as the care aspect, however, there’s also the research.
I recently lost a very good friend to secondary breast cancer. We were work colleagues, and she was diagnosed around the same time I was. That just shows how much work there is still to be done. I was only able to get through this because of my treatment, and, with more research, hopefully there will be better treatments for people with other types of breast cancer.
Unless cancer happens to you, or someone very close to you, you can’t really understand the impact it has on a person. But I do know, and it’s put a real fire in my belly to keep fundraising. Not just for other people with breast cancer, but for Eve. I want to be around as long as I can for them, so I’m going to raise as much as I can for breast cancer research.
Fundraising doesn’t have to be a big thing, either. Sometimes, just doing silly things like wearing a boob headband, dressing your dog up, or dyeing your hair pink can get you a lot of donations. I dyed my hair last year and, because I live in quite a small village, it attracted a lot of attention – but in a good way!
Even starting that conversation can have a huge impact. You never know who it might reach, or who it might help.
So, if you can fundraise, I strongly recommend getting involved. It can be something as simple as setting up a JustGiving fundraiser on your birthday (which you can do from your sofa!), or putting on an event for Afternoon Tea.
No matter how much or how little you raise, it all goes towards a fantastic cause.
If you've been inspired by Dawn's story and want to host your own Afternoon Tea, we'd love to have you fundraising with us! Signing up only takes a couple of minutes, and we'll send you a fabulous fundraising kit with everything you need to get started.