Breast Cancer Care is the only charity of its kind in the UK that provides specialist information, support and care for people affected by breast cancer. It is based in London, but has offices in Glasgow, Cardiff and Sheffield too. The organisation offers a wide variety of support and information services including things like a free telephone service, Ask Our Nurses email service, various specialist face-to-face services and a peer-support forum online.
The charity was started in 1973 on Christmas Eve by Betty Westgate. That was five years after she had been given her own breast cancer diagnosis. She was a big name in the world of breast cancer campaigning and lived for over 30 years after her diagnosis, until she died in 2000. In the beginning, the charity was named the Mastectomy Association, but this was changed later to Breast Care and Mastectomy Association of Great Britain by 1987 and then in 1994 to its current name, Breast Cancer Care.
Betty had always had a real passion for empowerment, education and information and this was why she set up the organisation in the first place, originally starting it from her Croydon home. During 1981, the National Society for Cancer Relief, that became known as Macmillan Cancer Relief/Support made an offer to fund the work of the organisation so it could achieve its potential.
By 1989, the charity had opened an office in Scotland, which was also the same year they had their first fashion show. This fashion show was notable as it was for women who had breast cancer doing the modelling, a show that continues right down to this day. !997 saw Cherie Booth QC become a Patron of the charity, with Geri Halliwell (the Spice Girl) becoming one in 20000.
The main vision and goal of Breast Cancer Care is to ensure that every person who is affected by the disease gets the best possible, support, information and treatment.
What They Actually Do
The organisation combines the experiences of individuals who have been affected by the disease with professional clinical knowledge and expertise, so that it can:
- Provide the best information possible about living with breast cancer and beyond
- Offer the best practical and emotional support possible through their helpline and other services
- Bring all the people who suffer from the disease together through their forum and services
- Campaign for the improvement of care and support standards throughout the country
- Promote just how important it is with treating and dealing with the disease to detect it as early as possible
How They Work
Their work is focused mainly on the individual experiences of each person who is affected by the disease. They involve those who are most important, breast cancer sufferers, at the heart of everything they do. They use their understanding of the practical and emotional issues that people affected by the disease face with their clinical knowledge.
The online forum offered by Breast Cancer Care is one of their most popular resources. It is for anyone who is worried about their breasts, treatment, diagnosis, or who is concerned for someone else with the disease.
There are different sections covering different aspects of cancer, including:
- Ask Our Nurses – The organisation’s nurses provide answers to all questions regarding the disease and breast health
- Genes and Breast Cancer – A place to share concerns and any questions about the risk of inheriting the disease and treatments
- Have I got Breast Cancer – A place to discuss and share worries about symptoms and family history.
- I am Recently Diagnosed – A place to discuss recent diagnosis of the disease
There are various other sections covering just about all angles and aspects of breast cancer and living with the disease.
Information and Support
The organisation is also well-known and passionate, just as its founder was, about providing the fullest and most up-to-date information and support for breast cancer sufferers and those affected by the disease. There is therefore extensive information about:
- Signs and symptoms of the disease
- What to expect from appointments related to the disease?
- Benign breast conditions
- Going through treatment
- Diagnosis of secondary breast cancer
- Treatment of secondary breast cancer
- Living with secondary breast cancer
Vision for the Future
In 2010 the organisation consulted with a huge range of different people, including their trustees, staff, volunteers, breast care nurses and of course, their users to make plans for how they should proceed with its work in the forthcoming decade. The result of this information-gathering exercise was that the charity will focus its efforts in seven key impact areas:
- Early Detection and Breast Awareness
- Diagnosis and Treatment
- Moving Forward
- Secondary Breast Cancer
- Younger Women
- Family History and Breast Cancer
- Families and Partners