Jackie Scully tells us why she's proud to be wearing a pink Unity Band this World Cancer Day.
When I look at my Unity Band, I don’t just think about the four amazing charities uniting to help those affected by cancer. I also think about all the fantastic people who worked together to save my life – when cancer had other ideas.
A day I won’t forget
17 January 2014 is a date I’ll never forget. It was the day I walked into the hospital on my own with a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary, and walked out with a diagnosis of breast cancer.
It was also the day I discovered Breast Cancer Care.
When you're on your own in the breast clinic, and the lack of mobile reception prevents you from reaching friends and family, it's hard to find comfort in a box of tissues and a vending machine cup of tea.
That's why I’ll always be grateful to this wonderful charity for their booklets and supportive information, which gave me the strength to pick myself up off the floor that day.
They were there for me from day one and, two years on, they’re still a huge part of my life. I’m grateful for not just that day, but the way they have helped me greet every day with a smile.
Support from day one
When I think back over the last two years, I don't think about the day I lost a boob and gained a surgically flattened stomach. I don't think about the nights when we would sleep with a washing-up bowl by the bed after chemo or the strange radiotherapy tattoos.
When I think back, I remember the amazing Breast Cancer Care website and how it helped me navigate a sea of treatment decisions and strange acronyms.
I remember the kind emails from Someone Like Me volunteer Karen, a lady with a similar story and a similar understanding of the journey I was about to face.
I remember my hilarious HeadStrong appointment, where I met Breast Cancer Care’s answer to Trinny and Susannah and discovered that I didn't need a wig of my old hairstyle to feel like me.
I remember the Younger Women Together event, where I could talk openly with young women just like me about losing my nose hair, not being able to wee in a straight line and the fact that hot flushes are so much worse than you could ever possibly imagine.
I remember that it was Breast Cancer Care that helped me live my life when cancer was busy trying to take it away. Not only did they teach me to embrace my bald head and love my scars, but they also showed me that it's OK to not be OK.
Making every day count
They were also the reason I woke up just weeks after diagnosis and decided I wouldn't count the days until the end of active treatment, but I’d make every day count.
When I was in hospital a nurse asked: 'What would you want your gravestone to say?' It's the most sobering thing anyone has ever said to me and it’s a thought that motivates me every day.
Breast Cancer Care gave me my life back – and packed it with meaning in the process. I also dusted off my trainers and ran my first 10k while on chemotherapy because of them.
And it's because of Breast Cancer Care that I will be running the London Marathon this April. Before cancer, I thought running up the road was impossible. Breast Cancer Care gave me the confidence to believe I could fight the cancer in front of me and the negative thoughts in my head that were holding me back in life.
Jackie (middle) and the Breast Cancer Care Events team, London Marathon training day 2016
While this is a journey I would never have wanted to start, I feel blessed to have met so many special people along the way, including the team at this brilliant charity.
Thank you Breast Cancer Care for all you have done not just for me, but for thousands of people just like me.
That’s why this little band on my wrist means more to me than I could ever possibly explain.