One thousand women in the UK die of breast cancer each month. Sarah Williams-Gardener could have been one of them, had the disease not been spotted during a routine health screening.
Sarah, 47, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in December last year and began a gruelling course of treatment – including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, Herceptin and a full bilateral mastectomy – before being given the all clear.
Sarah – of Water End, Hemel Hempstead, who lives with husband Richard and their two sons – is now focused on spreading the message to others about being proactive, and taking their health into their own hands.
Sarah, who works as public affairs director for IBM, said:“I chose to be positive. I think of it as a new chapter in my book – you get involved with things you wouldn’t have done if you’d never been diagnosed.”
And Sarah’s message is ever more apt during what is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On October 2, the mum-of-two strutted her stuff on the catwalk at Breast Cancer Care’s charity fashion show in London, and was also on the organising committee for Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s A Bigger Bounce Ball – a comedy night compered by Jo Brand at Camden’s Roundhouse on October 9.
Sarah said: “I was so honoured to be a part of the fashion show. It was amazing – there really isn’t any other word to describe it.
“The comedy night was fantastic. We raised just over £900,000 for Breakthrough.”
In September, Sarah was asked to officially open a new digital mammography unit at Spire Thames Valley Hospital in Wexham, where she received cancer treatment.
As a general rule, the NHS doesn’t provide breast screenings to those aged under 50 because research has shown that mammograms are not as effective in younger women. The new state-of-the-art equipment is available to women over 40 with a referral from their GP.
Sarah said: “The wonderful thing about the new facility is that you get the results there and then. There’s no waiting or the worry that can consume you. It’s immediate. It’s very simple – get yourself checked in whatever way is best for you.”
Visit the website www.breastcancercare.org.uk.