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'These checks are literally lifesavers' – why Jan and Sarah back Tickled Pink's vital message

"I'm just so proud of her. She's an inspiration to us all for the way she stays positive and always looks on the bright side" – the words of our colleague Sarah Bramley, who wants to give her mum Jan a Mother's Day to remember as Jan continues her recovery from breast cancer.

March 18, 2022 10:48am
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Jan Bramley from Asda Hartlepool supports Asda Tickled Pink

When she was in hospital Jan, who's worked at our Hartlepool store for 33 years, was surrounded by pictures of trips that she and Sarah have made together – and now they're planning a visit to Parma, a combined celebration for Mother's Day and her great recovery.

They're both supporting our Tickled Pink campaign, which raises money and awareness for Breast Cancer Now and CoppaFeel!.

The charities' message about the importance of regularly checking yourself, and encouraging women to go for their mammograms, really resonated with Sarah and Jan, as it was a routine check last October which revealed that Jan had breast cancer.

She said: "I count myself so lucky that I had the mammogram done, as because of the size of it and where it was I wouldn't have found it myself.

"The NHS were brilliant, putting me at ease and telling me everything. I think it was harder for my family than for me, but I was able to stay positive because of what I'd been told at the hospital."

Jan, who's 62 and works both on the checkouts and back office, always supports the store's Tickled Pink fundraising efforts. She will be doing her bit to support the campaign this month too.

She said: "Tickled Pink feels very personal, even more so now. There have been quite a few colleagues here who've had breast cancer, so it's important to keep getting the word out there, building awareness and raising money.

"I am one of the lucky ones because I've only had to have radiotherapy and have to take tablets for the next five years, but I haven't had to have chemotherapy.

"The store has been very good to me, accommodating my needs so I could do lighter duties and come back to work when I was ready. I wanted to keep busy, and because of the treatment I had I preferred to come back to work."

Working at Asda is a family affair for Jan – her husband Steven joined the store as a home shopping colleague two years ago, and their daughter Sarah works at Asda House recruiting optical and pharmacy colleagues. Jan and Steve's son Jonathan works for the NHS as a hiring manager at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital at Gateshead.

Sarah said she's so proud of the way Jan's handled her diagnosis

Sarah said: "It was such a shock to all of us, as she's one of those people who's never ill – I don't think she's ever had a day off sick in all the time she's worked at Asda. But from day one say she was saying, 'It'll be OK, I've got a plan and I'm going to get on with it' and when the doctors told her how long she was likely to be off work for she was like, 'No, I'll be back sooner than that.'

"She's never let it get her down; she's been an absolute inspiration, telling people to go to their mammograms, check-ups and appointments, and to not be put off by worrying that the doctors are busy after the pandemic. These routine checks are literally lifesavers, as Mum found out."

Jan Bramley with her Tickled Pink bedspread

When Sarah was on secondment as a training coordinator she won a giant quilt made from Tickled Pink T-shirts over the last 25 years, which has taken on extra significance since Jan's diagnosis and has pride of place in the family home.

She said: "Mum had just been diagnosed, so of course I donated to Tickled Pink, buying a ticket to be entered in a random draw for the quilt, and amazingly I was the lucky one who won. I gave it Mum, and she was totally surprised. It's got pride of place in our home and she looks at it a lot. It symbolises what she's been through and the important work that the charities do. She's so happy to have it."

Jan says the support of her friends and colleagues at the Hartlepool store has meant the world.

She said: "I'll have been at Asda for 34 years in November. I needed a part-time job after I had Jonathan and Sarah, so I came for Christmas and I'm still here!

"We've got quite a group of us who've been here for a while, which is really good because we all look out for each other. Whether it was me, someone getting Covid or another medical issue everyone's in touch asking if they need anything.

"People were messaging me all the time and it makes a difference knowing there are people outside your family who want to help."

The store's community champion Jackie Carroll said: "Nothing ever phases Jan – she is such an amazing lady. She always supports Tickled Pink – even if we're doing something after she's finished work she'll come in and help, because that's the kind of person she is.

"We were all quite shocked when we heard of her diagnosis, but Jan just took everything in her stride and was only off work for a couple of weeks because she really wanted to come back to work. She's so lovely, and everyone here's looking out for her."

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