And yet, it was still the hardest thing I have chosen to do. I am still recovering and it’s been five months. I’m infamously impatient and have to constantly reassure myself that it’s a process. In time, I will feel, and move, and look, and sleep better.
And still, I am lucky. I have not had cancer, and now have a less than 2% likelihood of breast cancer, which is considerably lower than the UK average of 16% amongst women - unlike Sophia, my family, my other friends, friends of friends, and the millions of other men and women in the UK.
Real bravery is the courage that these people have every morning to fight their fight. To remain resilient and mentally healthy, while having to reassure distraught loved ones. To get up and get dressed (and shout out to the glam women I saw at the Macmillan Cancer Centre who put on beautiful scarves and make up!) and just get on with it. To know there is an uphill battle and to continue to put one foot in front of the other, because they are strong. To go through not only chemotherapy treatment but also fertility treatment. To travel far from home and wait patiently in stuffy and packed waiting rooms, even when so tired.
And real bravery is the army of brilliant people who help our loved ones fight their fight. The receptionist who knows what you’re going through and smiles kindly. The counsellors who have endless boxes of tissues. The nurses who know you by name and tell you your boobs look cracking while delicately cleaning your wounds. The surgeons who painstakingly mark you up and are the guardians of your body while you are unconscious. The cleaners who keep your hospital space spick and span. The administrators who keep everything going. The support groups of people who share stories and compare notes over biscuits and tea. The geneticists who run continual studies to better understand how cancer works. The researchers who are working tirelessly figure out how to prevent it. The many people who fundraise millions each year to support this entire ecosystem.
You can be one of those people too. By taking part in Girlguiding LaSER's Macmillan Challenge, in partnership Macmillan Cancer Support, you are helping them care for the many people that Rebecca is talking about here. By raising money through a World's Biggest Coffee Morning or a Mile for Macmillan, raising awareness within your unit and among your peers, and giving your time to help Macmillan do what they do, you can make a difference.
The Macmillan Challenge comes to an end this 31 October. If your unit has already contributed, thank you. If you haven't, or you'd like to keep on helping, then hold a World's Biggest Coffee Morning in your unit before the end of October and your girls will earn the WBCM badge. If they have already earned it, then they can earn the Volunteering, Awareness and Macmillan Challenge badges too, because they're giving their time and raising awareness at the event - so they could get the whole set! Just make sure you submit funds and badge orders by the 31 October.