Our much-loved colleague Carrie Downs is wishing our Tickled Pink charity campaign a happy 25th anniversary – and says its message of regularly checking yourself for anything unusual saves lives.
Cash office colleague Carrie, who's worked at our Shoebury store for 14 years, is making a great recovery at home after being diagnosed with breast cancer last June.
She's supporting the campaign, which raises awareness and money for Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel!, from home and says everyone should get behind its message and check themselves regularly.
Carrie said: "I think Tickled Pink is an amazing campaign, I really do. It gives a boost to everyone who has had cancer and gives them confidence.
"Raising awareness is vital without a doubt. The more it's out there in the public domain the better. I think people are more open about breast cancer now than they used to be. It's not something to hide away from anymore.
"Checking yourself can save your life, it really can. If you find something that you're not happy about and worrying about please go see your doctor and get it checked. Don't delay.
"I felt I was wasting their time when I went to my breast clinic. I even said that to one of the nurses, and she replied: 'Carrie you are not wasting our time. This is what we want people to do.'"
Carrie, who's 58, is recovering at home after undergoing surgery to remove a breast lump and having chemotherapy and radiation treatment. She also contracted Covid-19, along with her husband David.
Last June, out of the blue, Carrie noticed a dimpling on one of her breasts and remembered seeing something on Facebook about a lady having something similar.
She immediately made an appointment to see her GP who referred her to the breast clinic at Southend Hospital where she had a mammogram and a biopsy.
She said: "I must admit that I was a shocked when I was told it was cancer as there was no history of breast cancer in the family. It just goes to show it can happen to anyone. The hardest thing is watching your children and husband go through it. The fear in their faces was so upsetting, but we've got through it now."
Carrie has really missed work and can't wait to get back to her colleagues.
She said: "My colleagues have been absolute darlings, they really have. Just before Christmas I had a bit of a meltdown and then half an hour later there was a banging at the door and there was about eight of nine of my colleagues singing Christmas songs as they know I love Christmas so much. It was lovely and it made me cry. They keep in touch with me to make sure I'm all right.
"When I first put it on Facebook what I was going through the messages of support were wonderful and that helped a lot as well."
Lorraine Coman, the store's community champion, said colleagues were so proud of Carrie.
She said: "Carrie is a much loved-colleague and is really missed. Through her wonderful laugh and personality, you know when she is in the room.
"Colleagues regularly talk to her and, as Christmas is Carrie's favourite time of year, we surprised her with some carol singing at her home.
"Myself, and all the colleagues here, support Tickled Pink. It brings home the realisation of how important it is to check your breasts regularly."