1 week ago
Over a decade ago, Jamie was looking for balance in her career. She wanted to pursue a digital career in the financial services sector while contributing positively to society. In 2017, the opportunity for the latter materialised when Breast Cancer UK was looking for a trustee with her skillset. She says: “I read what the charity is all about and how common breast cancer is – how in the UK, 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime with 1 in 5 being under 50 years old. It’s alarming!”
“Before becoming a trustee, I had no idea that some of the lifestyle choices I was taking could increase my chances of getting breast cancer,” says Jamie. Yet, she adds, “there’s so much information it can be hard to take it all in. For example, the list of chemicals to avoid in makeup and food was overwhelming when I read it the first time.”
“Initially overwhelmed by all the potential lifestyle changes: It took me a few weeks to get through it all, and then I’m like, OK, what’s a quick step? Well, that’s deodorant because it goes right next to your breast tissue. Next, I looked at moisturisers and other things we put on our skin, like sunscreen. Now, I’m moving on to food. We can try to do everything, but that’s a full-time job in itself. But it’s important to at least have that information so you can make an informed choice. It took me a few years to address their inclusion in my personal life, ” she comments. “But it’s better to do preventive methods than cure.”
Jamie has high hopes for the future of Breast Cancer UK, especially around communicating the prevention message to younger women. “We need to reach as wide an audience as possible, but especially more Millennials and Gen Z, so they can be informed about the lifestyle risks they are taking,” she says.
“Social media messages and peer pressure generally have more influence on young women than their parents. Current messages tend to be all about fast fashion and cheap makeup products that have all these chemicals in them. It’s all: You look good, and you’re young, so you’re OK. There’s nothing on young people’s social media radar that says anything about being aware of breast cancer and prevention.”
She notes that people tend to short change the preventive value of lifestyle changes in favour of career progression and social acceptance. She stresses the importance of breast cancer prevention through being aware of the potential risks of certain lifestyle choices: “Basically, young women need to try to stay informed. Regular breast cancer screening doesn’t begin until a woman turns 50, so younger women need to be mindful of the risk factors.”
Jamie is also aware that lifestyle change is personal, as everyone has their battles to fight. “The suggested preventive changes are just that – suggested – because the pressure to do it all could cause other illness such as stress, or poor mental health,” she says.
She also believes it’s critical women don’t feel guilty if they can’t make all the recommended
lifestyle, diet, and other changes. “What’s important is that if a woman, unfortunately, gets diagnosed with breast cancer, she feels she’s done everything in her power to avoid it, however small,” she says. “I think it’s a slightly less emotional burden to bear than if she was not made aware of all the potential harmful choices she made for 25 or 30 years e.g. chemicals in makeup or excessive alcohol intake.”
Jamie affirms: “We can take all the preventive recommended measures, but still get breast cancer because the causes of breast cancer are not fully understood. It results from a combination of the way we live our lives, our genes and our environment. And that’s tough, but we have the right to be aware and not be scared or feel helpless. We don’t want young women to live with regret or to think: ‘Why didn’t someone tell me?’ We’re definitely not going to live forever but, as young women, we can certainly be informed and aware, and take positive preventive steps to increase our healthspan”.
14 June 2021
It’s not only their track record in Breast Cancer research which puts Breast Cancer UK on the map, but also how they carry out their research, which has made it...Read full story
13 June 2021
Breast Cancer UK funds animal-free research that explores the link between breast cancer and potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday products and the environment. This science blog explains why we...Read full story
11 June 2021
"We started off as just three guys, looking to do some exploring for a worthwhile cause, " says Jack Martin, one of three teammates who make up The Biker...Read full story
10 June 2021
"Everyone has a stereotypical view of the journey, don't they?" comments Charly McNelis. "There's an expectation that after treatment you move on with your life. In my case, that's just...Read full story
A donation of just £10 can help us reach women with educational information and guidance on how they can reduce their chances of getting breast cancer.
A donation of £25 can help provide a Breast Cancer Prevention kit to help our Ambassadors deliver talks, providing healthy lifestyle advice and practical tips that can help people reduce their risk of breast cancer.
Your donation of £100 can help train one of our PhD students, who work on vital research which aims to understand the causes of breast cancer and identify risk factors.
Just want to help in some way? donate an amount that feels right for you
New easy way for you to donate to Breast Cancer UK:
Donate £5 please text to 70970