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We were thunderstruck to hear that someone so healthy had cancer

When Sophie’s friend Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was shocked. Now, she’s doing what she can to help raise money for Breast Cancer Now.

When Sophie’s friend Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was shocked. Now, she’s doing what she can to help raise money for Breast Cancer Now. 

Nobody could believe Sarah’s diagnosis 

Sarah and I met over 10 years ago at work. We work at a leading strategic consultancy for pricing and reimbursement of pharmaceuticals (predominantly cancer drugs).  

Over the years, we’ve helped each other through all sorts of life challenges. If I’m honest, Sarah has helped me way more than I have been able to help her, but we are always there for each other.   

When she first rang me in early December to tell me she has breast cancer, I was completely numbed. 

Initially, only a handful of us knew about Sarah’s diagnosis, and we were all completely thunderstruck. Sarah? No, surely not. She’s the captain and administrator of her netball team, she runs, rides bikes with her kids, she eats healthily, she’s never smoked, and she is not a big drinker. 

When the disbelief passed, the potential gravity of the situation hit home. We all held it together as much as possible for Sas, but I’d be lying if I said we didn’t cry.  

Sarah made sure to tell everyone who needed to know and was always keen for it not to be hidden. I asked if it’d be OK to start a fundraiser and mention it in an email to our work colleagues in January.  

Sarah says that the outpouring of love was almost overwhelming that day. 

Sarah has dealt with this head on 

Sarah isn’t the first person I’ve known with cancer, but she’s the youngest and, outside my family, the closest person I’ve known. My grandfather died of pancreatic cancer a long time ago (I was about eight at the time) and, while I knew he was poorly, there wasn’t a level of comfort with talking about cancer at all – let alone with children. 

Things have come on a lot in terms of understanding and being able to speak about cancer in the last 30 years. That is where Sarah has been so brave: dealing with this head on, keeping her young children in the picture and just being hugely frank and honest about it all, as difficult as that must be at times. 

Even during the toughest times, she hasn’t complained 

The few weeks from diagnosis to treatment were hard. Sarah was attending a lot of appointments and dealing with all the emotional stress that this brings.  

A shadow on her lung was detected, tested, and subsequently found not to be cancer.

She also experienced a collapsed lung, which was another painful thing to deal with. 

However, Sarah did not complain. I know it was a huge relief when cancer in her lung was ruled out, but she’s got a long way to go. 

Chemotherapy started just before Christmas when things were quite quiet, so she is easing back into the New Year now making sure she is taking lots of breaks when needed and getting lots of fresh air. 

Our company is very supportive and letting her lead the way in what she feels she can and can’t take on, allowing her all the time she needs for hospital stays and appointments.  

I wanted to help, and fundraising seemed the best way to do it 

The idea for ‘scarves for Sarah’ came about because Sarah and I were talking about wigs and headscarves she might need during chemo. I thought, if she is going to be wearing scarves all the time, then so will I, and perhaps we can give each other some ideas. And why not raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer Now in the process? 

It’s been such a difficult time for Sarah recently, not least because of shielding and lockdown. And as much as I wanted to, I knew I couldn’t give her a hug anytime soon, so raising money and awareness by wearing scarves is the best thing I can do for the time being.  

So far, the response has been truly amazing; it’s a testament to the impact Sarah has made on so many people’s lives. 

Breast Cancer Now is Sarah’s chosen charity because she has used the Helpline, which is a wonderful resource for anyone affected by breast cancer. She also likes their aspirational action plan that, by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live.  

I want to be a part of the community that helps make that a reality. 

Fundraising benefits everybody involved 

If you’re considering doing charity fundraising, just do it! Not only will it be of benefit the charity and the cause it supports, but it also gives you a huge buzz. I have had so many messages of support for Sarah and for my daily struggle to find a new way to wear a scarf.  

I’d suggest doing something that you can really get your teeth into – achievable with a stretch, but not unrealistic. It’s amazing how friends and colleagues got behind us on this, not just at work but also through social media. We’ve had donations from all corners: friends, family, loved ones, besties, netball squad colleagues, work colleagues and beyond. 

If you know someone who has or has had breast cancer, fundraising and donating – particularly during lockdown – is truly the next best thing to giving them a massive hug. 


If you want to help raise money for people like Sarah, there are plenty of ways you can do it. Plus, if you need a little help, Breast Cancer Now is on hand to give you some tips and advice.


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