It has been nine years since I began writing for The Telegraph about my experience of breast cancer. More and more people are suffering from that terrible disease, and I hoped to be a voice for those people. Since then, my column has broadened to include other cancers and conditions and, lately, Charles Bonnet Syndrome.
This is my final column and I have been reflecting on the work of the charities about which I have written and the people I have met. The value of charities is not just in the research they fund, but in the vital information and support they give to people who are faced with a cancer diagnosis. Creative campaigns raise awareness of a particular cancer or issue, lobby for new treatments and NHS investment, or highlight the holistic needs missing in patient care.
So often it is the strength and determination of people whose own cancer diagnosis drives them forward to launch a specific charity or campaign. Women like Kris Hallenga – whose breast cancer was doubted by the GP until it was too late – but who, aged 24, launched Coppafeel to make sure that other young people would know that breast cancer has no respect for age; or Jo Taylor, who could find no information to make an informed decision about surgery, treatment or reconstruction and created ABC Diagnosis to fill the gap; and Cheryl Cruwys, whose campaign Breast Density Matters is educating doctors and health professionals about the significance of dense breasts in mammogram screening.