Here is why.
One sunny morning in June 2011, I was brushing my hair when I felt a small lump on my neck that I hadn’t noticed before. It grew a bit over the forthcoming weeks. From a grape to a walnut. A misplaced Adams apple that worried me so went to see my GP. Nothing to worry about he said. Most likely a bronchial cyst. But it didn’t go away like he said and I went back again and again until I was referred in July. By August I had the devastating diagnosis that I had Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, I was lucky. They were aiming for curative and I was only stage 1A.
Treatment started straight away and after 3 rounds of chemotherapy I was as bald as the day I was born. My hair grew back in a shaky and fuzzy way only for a patch to be burnt off during the radiotherapy. The fatigue was like nothing I had ever known (and I had 2 babies very close together) and I continued to run my business in between sleeping the sleep of the dead and awaking exhausted.
Having cancer in my life was so unexpected at 44, that I felt the need to immerse myself in knowledge so I was at least informed. A good friend of mine told me about the Penny Brohn centre, right on my doorstep in Bristol. I looked on the website and could see that they did residential courses about Living with Cancer. Off I went to one, in between chemo and radio and it was wonderful. I did another at the end of all my treatment and took a dear friend as my husband was at home with our small children.
The Penny Brohn centre was a place of hope, inspiration and meeting others in a similar boat. The food and nutrition is a key part of what you learn and to my mind it was delicious. The surroundings were beautiful and people came from all over the UK and further afield to attend the courses. They were free though people made donations. I didn’t at the time as I was surviving on my part-time salary and was the only one working in my family.
My last day of treatment was 9th January 2012. Sadly it was the first day of chemo for my younger sister Hilary who rather shockingly had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer 2 months after me. Very sadly for her she was already stage 4 and though she battled hard against the cancer that would kill her just 10months later and make her 2 boys motherless, she was game over before she had begun.
I told her about the wonderful Penny Brohn centre and she visited in May 2012. She loved it but so ill and weak from her aggressive chemotherapy she had to leave early. She planned to return after she was better but she never made the return visit; sadly she died in August 2012 at only 44.
Since I recovered, I have been fired up with the desire to grow my business so that if I was ever ill again, I’d have something to support me beyond my own labour.
When I was diagnosed, I was the Interim HR Director at the wonderful notonthehighstreet.com who were very supportive. That business (which was 10 years old yesterday) has become a household name. A huge part of its success has no doubt been to how it works with people. Its own staff, the partners that make the amazing unique products we all love, its customers and future employees.
Much of what we do now for fast growing and entrepreneurial clients was inspired by those early days with notonthehighstreet.com. Much of the growth of our business was driven by my experience in 2011/2012 and my sheer joy at being alive and able to do something I love. I’m lucky that I have been in remission ever since but none of us know what is around the corner so it’s great there are organisations like Penny Brohn to support us.
I will never forget what Penny Brohn did for me and want to repay them by organising an amazing raffle and helping raise some much needed funds so others can benefit like my sister Hilary and I did.
How you can help
Please can you donate some wow prizes for our amazing luxury raffle? We have only just started and have already had a few fantastic donations from some of our clients.
Gold and diamond cocktail ear-rings worth £390 from Monica
A large luxury hamper from L’Occitane
Can you make a donation?
We are particularly looking for a star prize – a holiday or weekend away
Donations of champagne, wine and spirits
An all expenses paid meal
Cash prize or gift certificate
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01453 548070 if you can donate a prize or would like to sell tickets.
Ruth and the team at Amelore.