Our Sunday’s have a particular routine. Usually Nick and I go for a walk, might go out for breakfast and then buy the Sunday Times. I like the colour supplements or “comics” as they are sometimes called by my husband. I like reading India Knight’s columns about her home life in the magazine and some hair or face product in the Style magazine. I enjoy cutting out and trying recipes from The Dish section. I like looking at the million pound homes in the property section and reading about exotic locations in the travel section (I do read the news bit too but there is too much Brexit, Brexit, Brexit). The afternoon and evening is usually spent getting ready for the next week at school – emails, marking, planning, making low stakes quizzes for the start of lessons.. getting organised. I am a creature of habit.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has started to write a column in the Sunday Times magazine titled “Reasons to be cheerful” which takes real life stories with a positive outcome. I decided to email her to tell her about the Dare 2 ladies and their reasons to be cheerful. One reason was the fact that we did raise £13,000 for the Primrose Foundation last year, another reasons was that the Dare 2 team were at it again with a Dare to Burlesque Ball.
So I emailed the following to Yasmin
I really enjoyed reading your column this morning, not least as I teach in an inner city comprehensive in Plymouth and the relationship between Sunil and Tommy really resonated, we have a number of refugee children in my school and it is amazing to see how students from all different cultures can work together and form great friendships.
However, I’m emailing about a different reason to be cheerful – or how out of adversity great friendships and a feeling of being united can come about.
About 18 months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and as you may imagine it was all fairly traumatic. After my treatment I got to know a group of ladies through a local support group – Bosom Pals, we’d all had breast cancer and all started our “journey” at the Primrose Breast Care Unit at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. At the time we first met there was a great deal on ITV about Victoria Derbyshire and the Full Monty – Ladies Night. We were inspired in a way and determined to raise more that the TV professionals. So the Dare to Bare Ball was born.
None of the nine of us who were involved had any formal training for either dance or fund raising. However, we were united in a common cause and wanted to help the Primrose Foundation which had all supported us. We did Dare to Bare and we did put on a ball in a local hotel and we raised £13,000 for the Foundation. Not only that we have forged some life long friendships. We are 9 ladies of different ages, backgrounds and careers but we are extremely cheerful to be in each other’s lives. In fact, we still meet regularly and have decided to put on another ball this year – the Dare to Burlesque! So we are having fun being put through our paces to learn the Can Can and organise a ball.
I’m not sure if this is the sort of story you’d be interested in but I do know we all feel grateful for the treatment we’ve had and despite having had a life changing diagnosis and having had mastectomies, lumpectomies, chemo, radio and endocrine therapies we are still here and determined to make the best of life.
It is just so important that women go for their mammograms and check themselves – too frequently when we hear the word “cancer” we think – that is it best book a funeral but the treatment we’ve had has been amazing and if it helps one woman think.. “umm this doesn’t look or feel right” and get checked out it would be worth it. I’ve been very fortunate in an unfortunate way… no lumps, no bumps, cancer picked up on a routine mammogram, skin sparing mastectomy which has given me options for reconstruction. Some of the Dare to girls have been through the works… chemotherapy and radiotherapy and yet here we are!
I didn’t expect a reply but she emailed me back, this was then followed up with a short telephone conversation where I explained about the support we’d had from Shelley and M&S and then put together her version published our story. It can be found here: