Our fantastic colleague Jacqui Johnson is living life to the full 21 years after she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer – and now she's written about her experiences to inspire others in a new book on sale at our stores.
It's been a bit of an eventful 12 months for Jacqui, who's a section leader at our Hull Living store. Since appearing at last year's Breast Cancer Care fashion show, she has supported a number of Tickled Pink charity events, rubbed shoulders with celebrities, and says she wants to be an ambassador for our breast cancer charity campaign.
Now she's one of 14 people sharing their stories in a new book – Breast Cancer & Me: Inspirational Stories of Living With and Beyond Breast Cancer. It's out now for £3.50 and all profits from the sale of the book go to Breast Cancer Now.
Jacquie, who's 52 and a mum of three, said: "To be honest with you it's been 100mph at times, but I've loved every minute of it.
"I recently went to an event in London where there were stars from TOWIE, Love Island, Coronation Street and Loose Women. It was fantastic. Since the fashion show I've had such an amazing year.
"I've wanted to be an ambassador for Tickled Pink. I wanted to show people that there is life after cancer, and that you can come out the other end."
She says the team at her store had been so supportive.
"They are really, really proud of me," said Jacqui. "We're only a small store so it feels more like family. My manager, Chris, has been fantastic. When I've asked for time off to do Tickled Pink events he's said yes at the drop of a hat."
Jacqui, who's been clear of cancer for 21 years, says it's so important for women to regularly check their breasts.
She said: "I’ve brought up my two daughters to be ‘breast-aware,’ which basically means regularly checking for any abnormalities or changes. It’s estimated that around 1,500 lives could be saved each year in the UK alone if women were in the habit of checking. So if I could encourage you to do one thing today, it would be to check yours.
"I was 31 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump in my right boob. It was 1998 and I didn’t know about any support groups. In fact, I had never even met anyone else who had breast cancer before, so getting that diagnosis felt very isolating.
"The severity of my cancer meant that the hospital blasted me with chemo every Thursday, so I was wiped out most weekends, unable to get out of bed. My daughter Steph was eight at the time so for about a year she spent weekends with my parents, which was hard for us both. Getting the all-clear one year later was incredibly emotional.
"After chemo, I was told I wouldn’t be able to have any more children – but I went on to defy the doctors and now have four grandchildren. I am one of the positive stories. I made it.
"Cancer changed my life. I’m stronger because of it and barely recognise the person I was 21 years ago.
"I’ve come to appreciate how this horrific disease enhanced my life and me as an individual.
"I have a job that I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do before – when my manager asked me to be section leader at Asda, I didn’t doubt whether or not I could do the role for a second."
Breast Cancer & Me: Inspirational Stories of Living With and Beyond Breast Cancer is available now at Asda stores.