Colleagues at our Gosforth store are pulling out all the stops to support this year's Tickled Pink campaign – with a series of events to raise awareness and money for breast cancer charities.
They've been dressing in pink and getting into the spirit of things by organising a fundraising Pink Day, tombola, fun games for customers to play and a giant cake sale for colleagues.
It's a cause that's particularly important to everyone at the store as two much-loved colleagues, Linda Shears (above left) and Sharon Morrison (above right with our colleague Mhairi Neasham), have breast cancer.
The store’s community champion Michelle Castledine said: “Tickled Pink’s an important event every year, as everyone knows someone who’s affected by cancer. But this year in particular we’re all thinking of our colleagues and want to do as much as we can.
“It’s amazing to see everyone coming into the store dressed in pink and there’s a great atmosphere. Everyone’s joining in and having lots of fun while helping this important cause. They’re both amazing, inspiring colleagues and all our love goes to both of them.”
Sharon, who's worked on the checkouts at the store for 22 years, said: "Tickled Pink is great fun for a great cause. It's wonderful to see everyone getting involved, dressing up in pink and baking cakes and it's lovely for me to see people in the store supporting it because obviously it's a cause very close to my heart."
Sharon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, having recovered from leukaemia 20 years before. She lives with her husband Michael and they have two children – Chris, 21, and Nicole, 19.
"In 1984 I was studying for my O-Levels when I was taken very ill and I was diagnosed with leukaemia,” Sharon said. “I had radiotherapy. It was a very difficult time but I pulled through and recovered fully."
But in 2004 Sharon found a tiny lump under her right arm. She said: "It was so small the doctors said I did very well to find it, but after they'd examined it they told me I had stage three breast cancer and it had spread to my lymph nodes.
"Stage three is pretty much touch and go whether you make it or not. I had chemotherapy, but I couldn't have radiotherapy because I'd had such a large dose when I had leukaemia."
Sharon said colleagues were a brilliant help as she underwent her treatment – and then when she was well enough to return to work.
She said: "Initially the colleagues were very shocked when I told them I'd been diagnosed, as I was. I'd always been fit and healthy since the leukaemia, horse riding, mountain biking and running. After the shock they were very sympathetic and wanted to do everything they possibly could to help me and support me.
"I had a double mastectomy and had my last reconstructive surgery in 2011. Lots of the colleagues kept in touch with me when I was off, and when I came back to work everyone was lovely, particularly all the checkout lasses who are such a nice bunch.”
Sharon says she's happy to talk about her experience and hopes it helps others.
She said: "Some of the regular customers know me and ask how I am, and I don't mind telling them about it all.
"You have to stay positive. After the radiotherapy for the leukaemia I was told I couldn't have children, but I've got two so you just never know what's going to happen.
"I've been told that because of the type of cancer I got, it will return at some point, probably in another part of my body. But you can't let that stop you getting on and enjoying life."