Monday, 10 October 2011

Evoking the spirit of Braveheart?

Well I have survived the first part of October at least! Breakthrough Breast cancer’s first TLC day was covered extensively in the media and manning the stand in a shopping centre was as ever a fun and at times touching experience. The fine folk of Glasgow-always up for a blether- regaled us with their stories and impressed us with their resilience in the face of diagnosis of breast cancer. As always these experiences reinforce how common breast cancer is and how many lives it touches every single day.

The Changing Breast Cancer Event was an outstanding day. It was organised by our small team in Scotland and they did an amazing job. All the input was interesting and challenging. Three women spoke of their own experiences and what they have learned from that. I was to speak after the first of these tales. And as she spoke of how since she had agreed to talk earlier in the year, she has now-ten years on- developed secondary breast cancer, the room stilled and the emotion became palpable. For the health professionals I guess they rarely hear such a personal, unabridged, description of how it feels. And for the women and their families affected by breast cancer it was attentiveness born out of empathy and fear. As I stood up to speak I had a huge lump in my throat. Her understated story, in the face of obvious illness, told with the aim of improving things for others, was unsentimental and all the more powerful for it. As a start to the day it was such a reminder that there is so much more to do to change breast cancer.

Following my talk was an excellent summary of what we know so far about how to prevent breast cancer. The Breakthrough Generations Study is a forward-looking study in to the causes but we already know some risk factors that we can modify. These are not widely known so as the Professor spoke of how weight reduction, keeping active and reducing alcohol could help to prevent primary and secondary cancer the mood in the room became restive. Channeling the spirit of Braveheart you could almost hear the “ You can take our pies but you will never take our Pinot Grigio!” Since then I have resolved to get more active, lose some weight and I treat any glass of wine with grave suspicion. Another highlight of the day was a talk by Professor Dixon (yes my surgeon as you know!) who said that for a ridiculously small nation we are able to deliver a superb service and free at the time of need. It won him enthusiastic applause. Further channeling of Braveheart and by a Yorkshire man no less.

Reasons to be cheerful: Well as you can hear a very moving but motivating day supported by so many special people wanting to change breast cancer for the better. With our joint efforts I really have hope we will continue to improve things for people. I also had time with good friends and watched the Firebugs at a new venue in Glasgow. I really loved it and have felt some signs of awakenings of the mojo. Phew! No more additions this week for the Bucket list but a big one for the F*** list. Weather forecasts that include the phrase “ it will be lovely today everywhere but Scotland and Ireland…”. I am sure there is the technical know how to edit that bit out in Scotland and Ireland. It just upsets us! I speak from the heart here. Get working on it please?

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