What does it mean to be ‘Inspirational’?

I’ve been thinking about the word ‘inspirational’ for the last couple of days. A close family friend, who sadly passed away on Tuesday, was nothing short of inspirational. Although I doubt that she would have called herself so. Helen was dealt a shitty hand, in that she was diagnosed with stage four (terminal) breast cancer in May of last year; at 37 years old.

Helen swallowed the bitter ‘cancer’ pill with great strength and dignity, and after a short interlude (to reset her sails), she pulled up her big girl knickers and cracked on with life. She embarked on a gruelling regime of chemo followed by platinum therapy in an attempt, not to rid herself of the ‘Big C’ – that wasn’t an option – but to give herself as long as possible with her husband and three young children.

She bravely documented the trials and tribulations of living with secondary cancer on social media, all the while encouraging us – her family and friends – to rethink cancer while getting to know out bodies, because early diagnosis is the key to survival! She also set about raising funds for her local hospice – the Hospice of the Good Shepherd – in Backford, Cheshire. A charity cricket match and family fun day took place at the end of August, followed by other fundraising opportunities that in total raised well over £10,000. I’d say that’s pretty inspirational….

I know that none of us know how we’d react in certain circumstances until we are literally faced with them, but its a thought I’ve pondered since Helen’s diagnosis. Would I have the courage or the energy to share my story? Would I be motivated to engage is selfless acts of fund and awareness raising; using myself as an example of what can happen if symptoms go undetected. And all this while undertaking a punishing treatment regimen.

I guess the very real answer to the question is…. I’m not sure I would!

Helen’s selfless attitude in the face of true adversity has led me to look a bit deeper into the meaning of the word ‘inspirational’ and whether it is becoming somewhat overused in today’s society. I think its fair game to say that seeing pictures of a toned girl or guy on the internet may have inspired most of us to grab our trainers and go for a run – it may even have led to the people in those pictures being described as ‘inspirational’ – but it doesn’t carry quite the same weight that some inspirational folk might have over others.

Someone who puts the well-being of others so highly on her agenda, despite her own ailing health is, for me without a doubt, inspirational (even if she wouldn’t have used that word to describe herself!). I hope that if the ‘Big C’ ever comes knocking at my door that I will be as selfless, determined and strong as Helen.

Big Love,

Mammahannah xx

 

 

 

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No Make Up Selfies for Cancer Research

Social media crazes come and go, last month we had NEKNominate, and now we have make up free selfies. Last night and throughout today my news feed has been inundated with pictures of naturally beautiful girls posting their bare-faced selfies in an attempt to raise awareness for cancer charities. To the same extent, my news feed has also been filled with people questioning the point of this whole campaign or saying that people should be donating to cancer charities, or arranging fundraising events. But are these people not missing the point? The aim of this campaign was to raise awareness of cancer charities, not money! And as women dare to bare in their selfies and others critisize them for doing so, people are talking about cancer. Of course, many people have donated to Cancer Research and other cancer charities, as well as uploading their photos, as did I! It was as simple as texting BEAT to 70099 to donate £3.

While I am delighted that people are donating to cancer charities, I am even more delighted that people are starting to talk about cancer. As Cancer Campaigns Coordinator in the city of Manchester (UK) I regularly meet people for whom the word ‘cancer’ is taboo, and where a ‘head in the sand’ attitude towards the disease is the social norm. In other words, many people, young and old, still believe that cancer will not happen to them; even when science tells us that in the UK we have a 1 in 3 chance of developing the disease. And so if anything comes from this latest ‘no make up’ selfie craze, I hope it will be that more people now have a greater awareness of cancer and the cancer charities available to offer support should the worst ever happen to them.

If raising awareness in this manner saves just one life, or takes us a baby step towards finding a cure for this dreadful disease, I’ll happily go without make up everyday!