Turning negatives into positives

TAEFL Director Mary McErlain takes a very personal and heartfelt view of 2016.

Looking back on 2016, I could say it was a very difficult year for me.

I was diagnosed with brgiveeast cancer on 15th of December 2015.

I had surgery and received 20 days of radiotherapy. When recovering from surgery I also developed lymphedema. During one of my ‘grey’ days in January 2016 feeling blue and still in shock, I rang Breast Cancer Care.

They referred me to a service called ‘Someone like me’. This is a service that allows a volunteer to call you – someone who has survived a similar diagnosis.

With a feeling of total trepidation, I waited for a lady called Sue to call me and she kindly told me her story.

She had been diagnosed with cancer 10 years earlier, so already I was filled with hope and relief. My heart soared. Sue was pragmatic, positive, strong and brave, with a zest for life and she really inspired me to get in touch with my very own emotions.

I found the strength and courage to fight the emotional and physical challenges that lay ahead. Having been a Macmillan Nurse for the previous 20 years – looking after dying patients (of all cancer types) had left me feeling very fearful and Sue’s story helped me let go of the fear. So I will always be extremely grateful to Sue, Breast Cancer Care and all its supporters. As well as the ‘Someone like me’ service they also arrange events, have online forums and provide a lot of advice and information on breast cancer on their website.

Because of their help, we as a team decided to select Breast Cancer Care as our charity of the year and so we started to fund raise for it at various events. The whole team and some friends completed the Midlands Fun Run in Sutton Coldfield in June last year. The bright orange t-shirts stood out and after everyone finished we enjoyed a BBQ outside the office to celebrate.

At both the annual reception in March and the Drinks reception in October, we had a secret raffle where our clients and attendees gave generously.

At the annual reception event, a lady came from Breast Cancer Care and talked for a few minutes about what the charity does and how it can support people at such a difficult time. It was a very informative talk and created an emotional response from the audience.

Our most recent fund raising event was in October, when team members Mark and Ben completed the Birmingham half Marathon for the first time. Unsurprisingly, they couldn’t persuade any other team members to join them!

The total amount raised so far is £1,724.10 which is fantastic. There have been so many generous gifts from our clients, our strategic partners and friends which we are so grateful for.

In this last year, I have felt proud to have been able to give something back.

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