When Dean was 16, his mum died of secondary breast cancer. Now he's raising money for Breast Cancer Care in her memory.
I was halfway through exams when I found out
My mum died nearly 20 years ago, in 1998. She was first diagnosed with primary breast cancer 10 years before that, when I was aged five or six, so I was too young to understand what it was.
I was halfway through my GCSEs when mum was diagnosed with incurable, secondary breast cancer. It had spread to her liver, and was terminal.
At first my parents weren’t going to tell me, as they wanted to wait until I’d finished my exams. But mum needed chemotherapy, so there was no way I wouldn’t have noticed, and they decided that wasn’t the right path.
They didn’t realise how aggressive the cancer was
The doctors thought her prognosis was about a year and half. But suddenly everything escalated - the cancer was more aggressive than they’d realised. She passed away five weeks later.
It still affects us all
I think about my mum every day, and I’m not sure if my dad will ever move on. It hit him harder than anyone else. But in the last 12 months things have seemed better. I recently got married, and now he has an extended family through my wife and my brother’s wife.
I thought a lot about my mum around our wedding, as she would have been one of the main people we would have wanted there. Knowing she couldn’t, and realising it’s been 20 years since she died, was horrible.
My niece has brought a spark back to our family
After mum passed away, Christmases were particularly difficult. She’d been a rock for my dad, brother and me. But when my niece was born 10 years ago she put a spark back into Christmas. She’s helped bring us closer as a family.
20 events for 20 years
My original idea was to do 45 events throughout 2018, because mum was 45 when she died. Luckily my wife pointed out that’s almost one per week which may have been impossible!
I was sporty and active when I was younger, but after mum passed away I didn’t do much exercise at all and I put a lot of weight on. In my early 20s I suddenly realised - being this way will make me ill. I had to do something, so I got back into sport.
Now I love being active, although it’s a bit daunting thinking about all the training over the next 12 months. There are a few events I’m really looking forward to though, and some that my wife is going to join me for.
Mum is my motivation
It’s not just the events themselves that are a bit scary, but knowing that it’s a lot to put my body through, too. There’s no hiding from the training, I can’t take a week off!
Remembering why I’m doing this will get me through. I also have an amazing group of family and friends supporting me, and know that together we can raise money for Breast Cancer Care to support others affected by the disease.
My work and home life suddenly came together
I’ve worked at Force India for five years, so I was overjoyed when I found out they were going to support Breast Cancer Care. It seemed so strange, that my love of Formula One somehow joined up with my want to help others whose lives were changed by breast cancer.
It’s like we’re working together in a big team, all supporting Breast Cancer Care.
Join Dean and support anyone affected this Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Wear your limited edition 25th anniversary pink ribbon this October.