Behind every breast cancer statistic is a human story. To mark World Cancer Day, on Saturday 4 February 2017, we’ve reunited women from our ‘The Last One’ campaign to ask them about themselves and their lives.

Thursday 2 February 2017      Guest blog
Left to right: Julie, Julie, Mary, Emma and Helen from The Last One campaign.

Left to right: Julie, Julie, Mary, Emma and Helen from The Last One campaign.

Breast cancer touches the lives of millions of us in the UK. For every woman or man who is diagnosed with breast cancer, there are families, friends and loved ones who also feel the fear and uncertainty the disease brings. We can’t live with that.

That’s why bringing together all those affected by the disease to fund research, share knowledge and find answers. Find out more about each area of our research and the work we are doing.

Breast cancer, one story at a time

The resulting street portraits of the women from The Last One campaign, which launched Breast Cancer Now in June 2015, reveal the warmth, strength and humanity behind people who’ve been affected by the disease.

MirandaMiranda Ashitey

In summer 2014, after losing her father suddenly, Miranda was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 32. While undergoing treatment, Miranda completed the Great North Run. 

Miranda also found out while having various scans that she has polycystic ovaries.

What is the highlight of your week?

Buying comics when the new releases come out on a Wednesday - I'm regressing back to my teens!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Lots of things! Teacher, nurse, lawyer, tennis player, actress, radio presenter, flight attendant… I could never stick to one thing for long!

Tell us a fact about yourself that we don’t know.

I was a zombie extra in Shaun of the Dead.

Julie SJulie Strelley-Jones

Julie, who is currently based in London, was diagnosed with stage three inflammatory breast cancer in 2012 aged 41. Almost a year and a half later Julie was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, when the cancer spread to her liver, lungs and bones.

Six months later, Julie found out the cancer had spread to her brain. Julie is currently being treated with Kadcyla.

What is the highlight of your week?

The highlight is seeing my boys each day as they return from school. Better add my husband too when he comes back from work.

What is your philosophy about life? 

Live life to the full. Enjoy the now as no one has tomorrow promised.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Too many to mention, but probably falling into a storm drain in front of a load of people!

HelenHelen Weller

Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer in summer 2014 aged 32. A month before Helen was diagnosed she broke up with her boyfriend. Once diagnosed and treatment began he soon became her rock - helping her to tell her friends what was happening and being there for her during gruelling chemotherapy.

Helen is now well and training to become a personal trainer.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A chef. I applied for Junior Masterchef and thought Ready, Steady, Cook was the best programme on earth!

Tell us a fact about yourself that we don’t know.

I ran from London to Brighton for Breast Cancer Now in May 2016 and I also served the Queen new potatoes when she had lunch at Oxford University. 

What was your most embarrassing moment?

One of my moments... I have too many, I am sure.

When I tried to re-create the Rachel from friends look, I went too far and gave myself a horrendous mullet, only weeks before my sister wedding when I was her bridesmaid. 

EmmaEmma Young

Emma, 36 from Hemel Hempstead, is a single mum with three children - two girls and one boy.

In 2014, just five days after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Emma was told she had secondaries in her bones.

What is your philosophy about life?

The 'cleanest' one I could come up with is... I don't know how my story will end, but nowhere in my text will it ever read... 'I gave up.'

What did you want to be growing up?

I always wanted to be a Mum but also would have liked to have been an air hostess or policewoman. 

Most embarrassing moment?

Went to McDonald's drive-thru in my cow print onesie at about 4.30 one evening. Would have been ok had they not got the order wrong - I had to go in to sort it out!!

MaryMary Huckle

Mary aged 50 is from Middlesex and was diagnosed with stage 1, grade 3 breast cancer in August 2007, after finding a lump in her right breast. She had a mastectomy on her right breast and began chemotherapy. Six years later a swelling behind her collarbone was discovered and she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Her condition is particularly rare, as the lymph nodes were removed following her primary diagnosis, the cancer travelled via the internal mammary chain. Mary also has secondaries on her second rib. 

What is the highlight of your week?

My job as a personal trainer gifts me with immeasurable job satisfaction and many highlights. These include clients reaching their goals. For example, a weight loss target or an improvement in balance and coordination. ​

Any achievement or breakthrough, big or small can make my week or day!

What is your philosophy about life?

Make each day count; forget yesterday, focus on the now being today and tomorrow is another day!​ 

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I've always had an avid interest in health and fitness. Contrary to most young girls, I loved PE at school and my dream was to have my own gym or studio. I'm still working on it!​

Julie BJulie Brandram-Jones

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, aged 55, after finding a lump in her left breast, Julie was treated with chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and three weeks of radiotherapy

What is the highlight of your week?

The highlight of my average week is my day off. I used to work full time but when I returned to full time work after a years’ worth of treatment for breast cancer I really struggled, so I dropped a day. My day off is special; I try to do nice things like catching up with friends (and laughing – I do like to laugh!)

What have you learned in life that they didn’t teach you about at school?

I think life is one big learning experience; we never really stop learning, school was just the beginning. My experience of having breast cancer has taught me so much about everything. People for example; there were some who I thought I was really close to and they didn’t even bother to send a get well card and yet others that I barely knew who were absolutely wonderful. 

I didn’t sleep very well for a long time, my brain went into overdrive and I thought deeply about anything and everything – real ‘meaning of life’ stuff! Cancer really wakes you up and makes you think like school never did.

Tell us a fact about yourself that we don’t know.

I am actually a blonde in disguise! When I had chemotherapy to combat breast cancer I lost all of my hair and that wasn’t the worst part – when it grew back, it was a really weird colour, sort of ‘salt and pepper’ grey. As soon as I hit the six month mark, when it was finally safe to use hair dye, my daughter produced some Henna (enticingly called 'Caca Rouge') and I became a redhead. I LOVE being a redhead. 

However, I am still a blonde inside and I still have lots of ‘blonde’ moments. In fact, I have just been to collect the £20 cashback that I walked off and left in the supermarket self-service till last week...

GeorginaGeorgina McAdam

Georgina from London found a lump in February 2014, aged 34. After going to her GP she was referred to a breast clinic where she was later diagnosed with grade one breast cancer. She has now completed her treatment, which included radiotherapy and a lumpectomy

What is the highlight of your week?

The highlight of my average week is getting to spend time with my awesome husband. We both have busy lives, so I treasure the time we get to spend together.

What have you learned that they didn't teach you at school?

I've learned to trust that life has a way of working itself out - even if you can't currently see how that will be the case.

What is your philosophy about life?

My philosophy about life is to go out there and enjoy it. Pursue your dreams, spend time with the ones you love, appreciate the little things and all you have, and to dance and laugh - laugh a lot!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

When I was little I wanted to be a fireman. I was scared of fire and I thought this would help me get over my fear and allow me to help people. I then wanted to be in advertising and finally law.  I am now very fortunately living my dream.

Tell us a fact about yourself that we don't know.

I adore ducks. My mobile phone squeaks like a duck when someone calls me.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

When I was about 16, I went to the Amazon rainforest with my family on holiday. When I was by the pool, I bent forward and the clasp on my bikini top broke. As a result, my bikini top flew to the other side of the pool, much to the laughter and embarrassment of everyone around me (especially me)! There were no shops where we were staying, so I had to do the bikini up with a safety pin for the rest of the holiday.

Show your support this World Cancer Day

Show you are joining in today by sharing a photo of your World Cancer Day Unity Band® using #actofunity, and remember to mention @breastcancernow in your post.

If you haven’t got a Unity Band® yet, you can still get your hands on one from your local Asda store.

You can also make a donation to fund the future of breast cancer research and help us unite in one single act supporting all those affected by the disease.

Donate now