Our Breast Cancer Story: Jo & Chris
Statistics show that 1 in 7 UK females will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Recently, there has been a growth in the number of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer which has topped 10,000 a year.
Jo Holmes, loving wife of Chris, Photo Frames & Art’s founder and part of our devoted family, was diagnosed last September. At age 51 the mother-of-two was told the lump - a Grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) - had started to develop at an advanced rate. Devastation set in.
This is their story…
Jo: Rapidly, we became overwhelmed by the extremities of emotions. Fear, disbelief and panic engulfed us, our family and friends.
It felt like I’d been hit by a tonne-of-bricks when I received the diagnosis. The golf ball sized lump that suddenly appeared one day while I was showering swiftly felt like a huge weight holding me down, I found myself thinking, am I going to get through this?
I just felt complete disbelief. Chemotherapy treatment was mentally the most challenging thing I have ever been through, but I was lucky, I had the amazing support of first-class care from the NHS, Princess Royal University Hospital and Macmillan.
After putting my body through its paces, I finally received the positive news that the cancer was no longer present. But the reality of the illness has changed mine and my family’s mindset for the better, and I think there is an important message we can all live by:
“We must be grateful every day – rather than plan for the future, it is time to live for today.” – Jo
Chris: The waiting and anticipation through Jo’s treatment hit us hard. There are a lot of variables that play into the success of the treatment. We didn’t know the level the cancer was at, so we were constantly thinking, what have they found? It is a fairly aggressive cancer, but we were lucky.
With the added pressure that lockdown and the pandemic brought, everything was done in isolation including operations and chemotherapy, while we had the emotional support from our close friends and family, it was at a distance of course.
In those instances where we felt scared or anxious about the next steps in Jo’s treatment, it was imperative that we had access to the people at Macmillan with their understanding and empathy to talk through our fears and offer us resources post-diagnosis.
“While Jo underwent treatment, I was shocked to witness the harsh reality that there are so many women even younger than Jo going through chemotherapy. I had no idea that one in five breast cancers are now in women under 50.” – Chris
Having both been traumatically impacted by the ordeal, the duo said that Breast Cancer Awareness month sits close to their hearts, having been engulfed in its messaging shortly after Jo’s diagnosis.
Fast recognising the significance in raising awareness amongst the younger demographic, Jo and Chris are passionate to widen the education surrounding women’s want and need to check themselves.
Spotting an opportunity to reach out to numerous women via our platform at Photo Frames & Art, we reach hundreds of you every day.
For this reason, we have partnered with Helen Addis of The Titty Gritty and inspiration of ours and leading breast cancer campaigner. Together, we will be sharing a ‘change and check’ leaflet within every delivery during October and want you to know that there is a safe space to share your stories with us.
Jo: It is important we all take time out and invest in our health – set yourself a phone reminder for five minutes, whether you’re lay in bed, stood in the mirror or in the shower, feel for lumps or check for other signs such as: discharge, blood and puckering. Early detection is the key.
Having already started fundraising independently, Jo and Chris’ family have hosted an auction and afternoon tea event raising £900 for research and care charity, Breast Cancer Now.
During October, 10% of revenue from the Photo Frames & Art website sales will also be donated to charity Future Dreams which is close to our hearts. The charity funds research into secondary breast cancer and provides practical and emotional support for those touched by the disease and saves lives by early detection.
“Be vigilant: check regularly and check confidently”