Johnny Devereaux started taking part in challenge events in 2014 after his sister was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Ahead of this year's Virgin Money London Marathon, Johnny tells us why he's taking part again.

Friday 15 April 2016      Challenge events blog
Johnny, Geraldine and Katie

It's easy to put things off. We all do it, don't we?

There never seems to be a good time to do things, so we put them on the backburner, and more often than not never get round to doing them. I used to be like that.

Then my sister Geraldine was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer (also known as advanced or metastatic breast cancer) and everything changed. Her diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, just months after getting the all-clear, came as a huge shock.

I had already decided I wanted to do something to help my sister, but at first I didn't fully understand the consequences of secondary breast cancer. While trying to find the right charity to represent, I found an article on Breast Cancer Now’s (at the time Breast Cancer Campaign) website about secondary breast cancer, its impact and the great research they were funding.

Secondary breast cancer

It hit me like a sledgehammer. Geraldine, and the thousands of women like her living with secondary breast cancer, no longer had the luxury of putting things off until later. Life for them becomes about living in the here and now, and I knew I had to do something straight away.

I immediately signed up for the 2014 Brighton Marathon and set about fundraising. I had huge support from family, friends and colleagues, and my company ran a ‘Matched Giving’ scheme which contributed a further £500.

I also ran a series of very successful online auctions, mainly of signed sporting and music items which had been kindly donated by clubs, bands and individuals. I raised over £6,000, and after a short break, decided on doing something else, which ended up being the Hever Castle triathlon (at the full Olympic distance) in 2015, raising a further £5,000.

It's time to act now

In the meantime, Breast Cancer Campaign had announced its merger with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to form the largest breast cancer charity in the UK. It was particularly poignant for me that they chose the name Breast Cancer Now for the new charity.

It encapsulated the sentiment that had set me off on this path, during which I'd heard so many stories and met so many amazing people, all linked by a common thread. The charity's stated aim is to ensure that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live. That’s a bold target, but it could save my daughters', and certainly their daughters', lives in the future.

It can happen, but only if we act now to help the vital research that the charity is funding.

All fundraising helps

I'll be running the London Marathon this year with Geraldine’s daughter Katie, which will be a very proud moment. Your challenge may not be a marathon - there are all sorts of events out there for all ages and abilities. Or maybe you’d rather do something a bit less energetic, like a quiz night or a cake sale.

But whatever you plan to do, please don't put it off. The thousands of women (and men too) living with breast cancer don't have the luxury of time, and neither do we.

We must all act now to ensure that by 2050 breast cancer will have claimed its last life.

Get involved

If like Johnny, you believe the time to act is now, head over to our challenge events page and find your perfect event today.