Willow blog

A chance to help

October 17, 2016

In October 2009, Jo was happily married, looking forward to going on holiday with her husband, Colin, and their two young children, Sam and Jess. Then she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Jo shares her story and why she’s now raising money so others can experience a Special Day:

“It completely floored us all. At only 37 years old, my diagnosis was such a shock – I couldn’t hear anything beyond the word ‘cancer’. I was so scared about leaving my family.

My oncologist encouraged us to still go away but, with the news still sinking in for the whole family, it was an incredibly difficult time. After having CT and MRI Scans, we returned home early so I could begin chemotherapy straight away.

Colin was amazing, somehow remaining calm and trying to make it as easy as possible, but our lives changed overnight. My mum and dad had to step in to help us manage day to day.

Then my Macmillan nurse told me about Willow.

I was nearing the end of my chemotherapy and recovering from a mastectomy; we were all in need of something positive to look forward to. Willow organised a week away for us at Centre Parcs. It was brilliant! We had such a fun week, relaxing and having some much needed giggles as a family.

My Special Day made a huge difference, especially for our children. It was something positive in the calendar, instead of hospital appointments and treatment. We were all so excited to be going away together and, by having a week away from all the stress and worry, we all felt hopeful that life could return to normal again.

It really felt like we had turned a corner after my Special Day and we both wanted to give something back. In 2011 Colin and our son, Sam, raised money for Willow; organising a ‘Beat the Goalie’ event with their football team and former Spurs and England Goalie, Ian Walker. It was a fantastic success.

But we haven’t stopped there. This year my friend Emma signed up to do an Icelandic trek and asked me and our friend Tanya to join her. How could I say no?

For me, it’s the perfect chance to raise even more money for Willow after they supported our family, when we needed it most.

This year will mark seven years since my diagnosis and I am so grateful to be in good health.

I know the money I raise will help to fund someone else’s Special Day, giving someone a break from all the turmoil that serious illness can bring. I want to make someone else’s journey a little easier and give another family something wonderful to look forward to.

Believe me, an Icelandic trek is going to be a huge challenge. I’ve never done anything like this before so it really is going to be tough. I am not normally a super fit, adventurous person! I will need to put in lots of hard work so that I can physically manage this trek – and reach my fundraising target, too.

If you’d like to support me, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you so much for reading my story. I also want to thank Willow for allowing me to complete this challenge on their behalf. It really means so much to me. Wish me luck!”