After Claire, Louise’s sister, died from breast cancer in 2022, Louise held an Afternoon Tea in her memory, to raise money for Breast Cancer Now.
Claire was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer
I grew up in a very close-knit family with me, my mum and my sister. When my sister and I had children (I have a daughter and son), we ensured they were also close. We did so much together including annual Butlins breaks.
In 2008, my sister, who was 31 at the time, went to the doctors due to an inverted nipple and thankfully they reacted quickly. She was seen very promptly by the hospital and they diagnosed her with Grade 3 breast cancer.
They told her she had a very small chance of seeing her son start school. In other words, she was told she was unlikely to be with us in 2 years’ time. Against the odds, we had 14 years together that we didn't think we’d have. We had that because of research, the NHS, charities like Breast Cancer Now, hospices and her determination.
Families can be the forgotten victims of this disease
My mum and I were there for my sister throughout. My mum was her main carer for years and attended every single appointment with her. Just before COVID-19, my mum broke her ankle so she couldn't attend appointments and the feeling of guilt was immense.
I think families can be the forgotten victims of this disease. The family go through so much when someone is diagnosed with cancer; it’s an emotional rollercoaster. It’s exhausting but you thank God for every day you have with that person.
I spent 14 years preparing for her loss
I struggle to put into words the impact it had on us, but on a positive note, it made us appreciate each other.
It's odd but I spent 14 years preparing for her loss as I knew it would come at some point. I’ve cried myself to sleep so many times over the past 14 years. I’d often lie in bed reading survivor articles and think that one day, that would be her. And I’d read articles about loss and think one day that would be us. All I can say is that it was a roller coaster.
Claire died in March 2022, aged 45. When you lose someone close to you, you don't just lose the person, you lose that family/friend culture. Who do you talk to when you next need a listening ear? Family holidays will never be the same. Our cinema club (mum, sister and me - weekly visits) will never be the same, and so on. I truly lost my best friend and sister.
I organised an Afternoon Tea to mark Claire’s birthday and raise money
After Claire died, I wanted to do an Afternoon Tea to mark her birthday and raise money to help others affected by breast cancer.
The Afternoon Tea grew into a garden party, a raffle and auction. I couldn't have done it without my very supportive husband; he secured so many lots for the auction and worked so hard to get donations. We opened the auction up to families, friends, work colleagues and neighbours. Many neighbours donated raffle prizes and nearly every neighbour entered the raffle.
On the day, 60 people attended. We had food and drink, sold the Breast Cancer Now pin badges/ wristbands, distributed awareness leaflets and sold crafts.
Warm remembrances of Claire and the fundraising total were 2 highlights
I can't tell you how many people told us it was a fantastic event and that Claire would be so proud. And so many people asked us whether we’d be making it an annual event.
One of the most valuable parts of the day, which we can't measure, were all the conversations that people had about cancer: signs, symptoms, people’s stories and thought-provoking discussions.
My personal highlights were seeing everyone enjoy themselves and seeing how much people were prepared to support the charity, remember Claire, and support us as a family. Most of all, it was wonderful to see the total rocketing up and up.
I’m so proud of the £3,540.86 we raised and the difference it’ll make.
It’s important to know there’s a reliable source of information like Breast Cancer Now
The information Breast Cancer Now provides and the personal stories you can read on the website are invaluable. You need to know there’s a reliable source, otherwise you’re in the hands of 'Doctor Google'. Without sites such as Breast Cancer Now’s, my sister wouldn’t have gone to the GP.
It’s charities like Breast Cancer Now that allow for research progress and it’s that progress that gave us 14 more years with Claire.