In this month’s blog, as well as updating you on what is going on all around Achieve together, I am going to take the opportunity to talk to you a bit about something that is deeply personal to me and I know will have touched many of your lives too, and the lives of people we support. This September I was diagnosed with breast cancer having seen and felt some changes a few weeks earlier.
I know my personal experience will have ups and downs in the months ahead, and I know that many of you will have been deeply and personally touched by cancer and know, as I do, what amazing support there is out there from Macmillan nurses to Maggis. For Breast Cancer specifically, there is also Breast Cancer Now, CoppaFeel (targeted at young people), and some incredible social media content including from Liz O’Riorden, a breast surgeon who has breast cancer herself. I reference these just in case it is useful to some of you. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. What has really overwhelmed me has been the little things, the tiny organisations out there – many with improbable names – such as ‘Flat Friends’, ‘Jen’s Friends’ and believe it or not, ‘Knitted Knockers’ who are all doing their piece to make a painful and traumatic experience just a little bit kinder and a whole lot more supported. In just one example, I was given a heart-shaped mastectomy pillow on the day of my operation, made by a volunteer that I will never meet and who will never know me. Within it, I found a secret handwritten message that said…. ‘I have prayed for your full recovery’ – this little kindness had a profound effect on me.
To do the work we do, you will have resilience and caring for others at the heart of who you are – and I know that sometimes it can mean we don’t prioritise ourselves. Breast Cancer Now cites that half the women in the UK do not check their breasts regularly, and yet one in seven of us will get breast cancer. Please take the time to check for signs on a regular basis, and promote this with your daughters in particular. I have included a graphic below as a reminder.
For those of you who have been affected in any way, our EAP service on 0808 168 2143 is always available, alongside the support networks I have referenced above. If you can get involved in any of the activities we have planned during the month, I always love to see the photos and hear your stories, and you can always contact me directly at email@example.com.
In the meantime, show yourself some TLC… Touch your breasts, Look for any changes, check with your GP.
Given it is breast cancer awareness month in October, there will be plenty of activity going on across Achieve together. Remember to join the #WearItPink Walk n Talk Groups if you can. There will be sponsored walks on 22nd October across different regions of Achieve together with people supported, families, and support teams. To get involved, please contact Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Inspiration for walks will be taken from Julia Bradbury’s The Outdoor Guide and Julia’s office has agreed to support with tagging any social media we publish.
People around Achieve together have been keeping busy as usual. Here are a few photos from Uplands House, Chetwynd Road, and some fun, uplifting artwork created by people at Acorn House.
We are delighted to have ten people/teams shortlisted in eight categories for the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards this year. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing with you just what makes them so special, and why we are so proud of them. Our first fabulous finalists are Elaine Adesola, from Hedera House, Kent whose courage and leadership in the face of difficulties is worthy of high praise indeed, and Joseph Scaife from Middle Gordon Road, Camberley, who demonstrates how having fun and being brave can make a huge difference to team members and the people we support. Congratulations to you both on this fantastic achievement!
Look out for a BSL translation of this blog, which will come later in the month.
Wishing you all the best,