Did I mention October is Breast Cancer Awareness month?! Well, there have been a few events I’ve been to recently to help raise awareness and share a little bit of boob love around.
On 8th October an excited group of us from Freddie’s Friends, YouCan‘s support group, hopped on a coach and travelled into London for a truly special evening.
One of YouCans lovely ambassadors, Victoria Derbyshire, launched her book Dear Cancer, Love Victoria and we had tickets to the event.
Our evening began with a delicious meal at Nandos. Nandos is one of the companies that supports YouCan and we were lucky enough to get a private area with plenty of space. And the food was delicious – Nandos is a personal fave’ of mine.
Pic below – Freddie’s Friends enjoying a lovely Nandos
Once fed and watered we headed over the The Other Place Theatre, Westminster. Victoria had some time before the show to come and do a short meet and greet with us and the other theatre goers. It was lovely for me to get to meet her again (we first met at the opening of Hinton House, which I will talk about in another blog post) and I know all of our group really appreciated her taking the time to come out and chat to us.
Pic below – Victoria meeting us all before the show.
So, Victoria has written a book. It is based on the personal diary she kept during the year of her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. She has written diaries since childhood and felt that this was one that would be useful to share.
In an interview, this is what she has said about the book:
“Dear Cancer, Love Victoria is based on my diaries from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2016, documented in real time as events unfolded. When I read the entries back for the first time I cried, because I’d forgotten or blanked out some of the details. Everything is in there – the impact of the diagnosis, how we told our children, how I coped with the sometimes gruelling treatment, the distressing hair loss, my regret at cancelling our life insurance months before – everything, including some swearing, and quite a bit of drinking rosé wine.
It’s daunting to have something so personal published; I worry about the reaction. But that’s outweighed by my desire to speak openly and boldly about cancer to anyone who will listen. Although two and a half million people in the UK live with cancer, the experience is still too often talked about in hushed tones and awkward clichés. It’s in the hope that my story helps demystify the reality, that I’m sharing the diary of my diagnosis and treatment with you.”
The book launch was a mini talk about her book, a short interval and then an opportunity for Q&A. In the first section of the show she detailed how she came to write the diaries, a little about her diaries in her formative years and a little about her life before her breast cancer diagnosis. She then read a few excepts from Dear Cancer, Love Victoria. One that was particularly moving was how she and her partner told her children about her cancer.
After a short interval (for wine!) we were invited back for a Q&A. Victoria promised to answer our questions honestly as long as we gave her the same courtesy. As the mic was passed from question to question, Victoria was true to her word. A couple of people stuck in my mind; one was an inspirational lady who spoke about her secondary breast cancer diagnosis and how she deals with that in day to day life. I know that touched a nerve with a few of us in our group and a few tears were shed. Another fab lady called Hannah asked if she could read a poem, which I have permission from her to post below. It offered some light relief from an emotional couple of hours, and I know I appreciated it.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
I thought I wouldn’t miss it much
I thought I wouldn’t care
I’d always worn it short, you see
‘Til chemo took my hair
I’m trying to accept it
I know it has to be
But the bald woman in the mirror
Just really isn’t me
My hair was cropped before all this
A salt and pepper hue
More boy than girl and that’s a fact
They should have named me ‘Sue’
‘You have the right shaped head’
They said,’ it’ll suit you Han, it will’
I’m sorry but I don’t agree
And the baldness irks me still
I promise when it grows again
Right from the very start
I’ll never cut it – ever!
On that I cross my heart
To all you hairy buggers
With your curls and length and fringes
Be glad you’ve got your mop up there
Bed hair? Just stop those whinges!
By Hannah – https://myhannah.blog/about/
All in all it was an amazing, moving, inspirational evening and I can’t thank Victoria enough for writing truthfully and candidly about her experience. All the proceeds from the evening were donated to YouCan; just over £1000 – Thank you Victoria! That money will go towards supporting children, teenagers and young adults.
The other event I went to was Festifeel, hosted by the charity Coppafeel! The charity has been throwing the event for about 8 years and the past couple of years it’s taken place at The House of Vans, Waterloo. The event is curated by Fearne Cotton and there were some stellar performances from Will Heard, Pixie Lott, The Staves, Mystery Jets, Basement Jaxx and various other DJs.
Pic below – Coppafeel! co-found Kris and Fearne
The highlights for me were definitely seeing Busted – My friend H has loved them forever and was ridiculously excited! – and meeting Alice-May Purkiss, who is an amazing blogger that I’ve mentioned before – she was so lovely! I also saw wonder woman Kris Hallenga, Coppafeel! co-founder and fellow cancer warrior. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet her – she looked very busy and important every time I saw her – but it was awesome to be in the presence of such an amazing lady who is an inspiration to many after setting up Coppafeel! after her terminal breast cancer diagnosis in her 20s. The whole event was very light, fun, sparkly but most importantly got you thinking about your boobs. Really enjoyed it and can’t wait for next years Festifeel – bring on the glitter!
Pic below – (l-r) Ali, H, my sister Laura and me sporting our tit-tees – thanks @girlstolelondon
Coppafeel! have also just launched an advert to remind you to check your boobs. It’s the first time a female nipple has been used in an advert on UK tv and I met one of the ladies responsible of it at Festifeel. They are, quite rightly, very proud of it. It can be found here:
So, ladies and gents PLEASE get to know your body! Please CHECK your chebs! No one knows your body better than you do. If you notice anything I can’t hurt to get it checked out by your GP.