For the past 25 years our wonderful community champion Jan Craig has thrown everything into fundraising for Tickled Pink and, having had breast cancer herself, knows just how important our charity campaign is.
Sixty-one-year-old Jan – who started work at our Middleton Park store in Aberdeen 25 years ago – is the first to offer breast cancer advice and support to any colleague or customer who needs it.
She said: "As it's hit me at a personal level I aways throw myself into Tickled Pink fundraising. I've organised dress down days and wear pink days as well as selling sweetie bags and raffling hampers. We have raised thousands of pounds over the years. Tickled Pink is such a fantastic campaign and its work means so much to so many people."
Overall, Tickled Pink has raised £71 million for breast cancer charities and this month we're donating £500,000 to our charity partners Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel! through the sale of selected products.
The pandemic has limited some of the store's usual fundraising efforts, but Jan says customers and colleagues at the store are still passionate about supporting Tickled Pink.
She said: "This year is slightly different because of the pandemic, but we will still be selling merchandise such as the T-shirts and we have our information board too. We just want to keep spreading the word.
"Customers here are very supportive of Tickled Pink. We have one gentleman, I don't know his name, but every time I'm fundraising he will put a five pound note or a ten pound note in my tub as he's lost his wife to breast cancer.
"If I've got a table where I've got a tombola or something, you will get people putting money in the bucket and I'll say, 'With that amount of money you can have so many tickets' and they will say: "No, no I just want to put that in as my sister died of breast cancer' or 'my neighbour is going through breast cancer treatment at the moment.' You build up a rapport with your customers and they tell you their stories and you tell them yours."
Jan, who has always regularly checked her breasts, was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2013. After going for a routine mammogram she received a letter asking her to go back for further scans.
She said: "I didn't think much about it. I just thought there'd be something wrong with the images, so it was a total shock when they told me I had cancer. It was so deep and the mammogram had detected it. I wouldn't have found it myself until it was possibly too late."
Jan had an operation to remove the cancerous cells in her left breast and had radiotherapy treatment, and has since made a great recovery. She says she was keen to get back to work as soon as she was able to.
Jan, a widow who has two grown-up children, said: "Work was really good for me as it gave me something else to focus on. I just wanted to get better. When I had my radiotherapy the nurses worked around my working hours so it didn't affect me. My colleagues here were really good and very supportive."
And she has this advice for both men and women: " Please do your regular checks and if you find anything unusual, contact your GP as soon as possible.
"And if you get a letter asking you to go for a mammogram, don't ignore it. There are a lot of people who don't go for their mammograms. They think it's going to happen to someone else – but everyone is at risk!"