I wanted to do a special blog today for a fabulous woman who died peacefully just before Christmas. She was diagnosed 13 years ago with breast cancer and her last few years were a marathon of cruel symptoms, frightening diagnostic tests, worrying waits for results and ,lets be honest, awful treatments. She faced all of that with positivity, immense courage and
startling lack of self pity.
We first met her when she indicated her desire to support our work in life saving research and in campaigning for a better future for people like her. She met with the team in Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Scotland and told her story. They were deeply moved by her courage in the face of such a devastating experience and uncertain future. She agreed to talk at our first Changing Breast Cancer event. She told her story calmly and bravely, catching with emotion especially when talking of her children, but never inviting our sympathy-just wanting us all present to understand why it's so important to change things for people like her in the future. A standing ovation said it all.
Later that day we all attended a reception in the Scottish Parliament. Angie was delighted to meet the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing , Nicola Sturgeon that day as well as her own MSP , Malcolm Chisholm. The photographer captured some lovely moments for her and for us. In particular I recall an exchange about shoes ,a shared passion of Angie and Nicola too I suspect! -my own fab pink sandals having stimulated the discussion on that occasion. Her sense of fun and enjoyment in life so evident that whole day. I am glad we were able to give her the platform that day.....I will always remember it.
So today watching as her coffin arrived, a splendid pink one with fabulous shoes adorning the side, I thought , well done that girl. Going out with style indeed. The service was rightly a celebration of her life. She didn't waste a moment of it and that should always be celebrated. She had in earlier years done a trek in the Himalaya for Maggie's Centre who had been very helpful to her . And St. Columba's Hospice too was honoured for the great support she and her family had had from them over several years.
She had planned all her funeral including the music and she arrived to Circle of Life and we left to Everybody Hurts. Not a hanky was spared. But perhaps the moment with the biggest impact for us was when we heard her answer to the question- are you frightened? Her answer was -after living with this awful disease for so many years nothing on this earth could scare me now. I am swallowing hard as a write this, glad she is now free of pain and distress and with a hardened resolve to do all I can to breakthrough breast cancer.