Jackie was diangosed with breast cancer, aged just 32. Three weeks after getting engaged, Jackie started active treatment determined to make the most of every day. That’s why she contacted Willow: 

“Before my diagnosis, I was just your average thirtysomething trying to make my way in the world. I worked too hard, rushed everywhere, spent weekends at weddings, hen dos and baby showers or decorating the house and certainly didn’t see enough of my wonderful boyfriend. I was so busy trying to live my life, I had forgotten what it was to enjoy it.

I don’t think I will ever forget the moment my name was called out and I was escorted into a consulting room and told I had cancer. But, I will also never forget the moment I decided I wasn’t going to let a life-threatening illness stop me from making 2014 an amazing year. And, barring a few dark days and difficult side effects, I am delighted to report, I have been smiling ever since. This is in no small part due to Willow.

When my breast care nurse recommended Willow, I was so thrilled to hear that there was an organisation set up in recognition of the fact that quality of life is, in many ways, as important as life-saving treatment. After all, the next chapter has got to be one worth fighting for. I jumped at the chance to escape the conveyor belt of hospital appointments and waiting rooms for just one day and do something that put our relationship centre stage once more. That’s why I applied for a trip on the Orient Express. It was something that had been on the wish list, but life had managed to get in the way.

The day itself was magical. From the band welcoming us at London’s Victoria Station and the beautiful carriages, to the friendly staff and delicious food, we were no longer a young couple waking up to the realities of cancer every day. We were just another pair of tourists in the crowd, enjoying the wine, the food, and soaking up the scenery.

This Special Day showed me just how important it is to fill the diary with dates that don’t involve painkillers and needles. Since that moment, we have made the most of our time together. Whether it’s running a 10k before my last chemo, standing on a cliff in Cornwall so that I could feel the wind against my bald head or watching fireworks on Whitstable beach, we have tried to turn what could have been a difficult year into one big adventure. And, when I look back over the photos, the smiles and the things we’ve achieved, I think we’ve done just that.

Thank you Willow for giving us the us the opportunity to reflect on what matters. This is one journey we will never forget.”

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