Six years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It came as a huge shock, not helped by the fact that Peter Cowie and I had recently launched Oystercatchers.
Have you seen the Macmillan Cancer Support ad in which people tumble backwards? That’s how it feels: just like you have been hit by a juggernaut. But, as the campaign suggests, "no-one should face cancer alone" – and you don’t. I was overwhelmed by a wave of support, love and care from family, friends and even people I hardly knew. My house looked like a flower shop, I had more magazines than I had ever read and I became an expert on Midsomer Murders.
Five ways to take action
- 1. Move More. This will boost your immunity and lower risk of cancer by reducing insulin levels
- 2. Get screened - regularly. The earlier cancer is found, the greater chance treatment will be successful. That goes for men as well as women.
- 3. Spot a lump that shouldn't be there? Go straight to the doctor. Delay isn't an option.
- 4. Find information you can trust. There is a lot of misleading material out there. Avoid it and head for the experts. Visit www.macmillan.org.uk or call the helpline 0808 808 0000.
- Donate to Macmillan and get involved. Make a one-off or regular donation to help people facing cancer. To donate and find out more, call 0300 1000 200 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk
I changed my life. My children Jaz and Sam became my centre even more. I tried to live for the day, setting myself challenges such as completing triathlons, a 100K hike in a weekend and monstrous bike rides. I decided to drink less and eat healthily – with the exception of chocolate, which I have persuaded myself is still good for me. Oystercatchers grew. We employed lots of talented people and I felt highly privileged to become a trustee of Macmillan.
Then, on 7 August at 10.17am, my specialist called to tell me I had skin cancer – a melanoma 5mm deep on the side of my foot. He ordered me to stop what I was doing and come immediately to hospital – the growth needed to be removed straight away. What I and several doctors had thought was a wart turned out to be cancer. He arranged an appointment for 5pm. So I did what most girls in crisis do: I had a leg wax! Then, I took a breath, and started all over again.
The alarming fact is, one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer. Skin cancer treatment alone has risen by 41 per cent in England over the past five years. For most of us, cancer will be the toughest thing we ever have to face. The good news is: we don’t have to do it alone.
Macmillan has been with me through my cancer; my sister’s, my cousin’s and my aunt’s cancer as well (it’s a strong family gene). When you are facing the toughest fight of your life, you need a team of inspiring people in your corner. And Macmillan was there. All the time.
We held a Macmillan Coffee Morning last Friday at Sir Paul Judge’s gorgeous apartment. Extraordinary cakes were produced by many of the top agencies and we had a stellar line-up of marketing and business talent to judge this amazing bake-off. Winners included DMS, Publicis, Ogilvy & Mather, Futureproof, Albion and Justine Scognamiglio, the daughter of Marco Scognamiglio, Rapp’s chief executive. And, together, we raised £13,000.
Macmillan…strapline is: ‘No-one should face cancer alone’
We all have exceptionally busy lives and it’s easy to not make time for ourselves, put off the visit to the doctor for a check-up or ignore that niggle in the back of the mind when we know something is wrong with our bodies.
But, please, make the time – it might just save your life. Our community came together on Friday and gave generously so that no-one will have to face cancer alone. Please, let’s keep the momentum going.
Suki Thompson is the chief executive and co-founder of Oystercatchers