Ann began fundraising after her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2014
East Dulwich fundraiser Ann Coxon, 48, met HRH The Prince of Wales last week, during a Royal visit to the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London.
Ann met His Royal Highness having been invited to the special socially distanced event with five other Breast Cancer Now supporters, in recognition of their amazing fundraising efforts.
Ann was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer breast cancer in 2014 at the age of 41, when she daughter was just three years old. Ann completed eight months of treatment which included a full mastectomy and chemotherapy, which caused hair loss and an early menopause. For many women, chemo-induced hair loss and menopausal side effects can have a devastating impact on both their quality of life and mental health.
After using Breast Cancer Now’s support services to help her through her own diagnosis and treatment, Ann decided to take part in the charity’s £1,000 challenge by shaving her own head, raising an incredible £1,520. The £1,000 challenge raises money for Breast Cancer Now to fund world-class secondary breast cancer research at the Research Centre.
Ann shared her motivation for raising funds for Breast Cancer Now and her experience of meeting HRH The Princes of Wales. She said:
“Meeting His Royal Highness and seeing the Research Centre has been an incredible experience. After going through a breast cancer diagnosis, I know just how important the work being done by Breast Cancer Now’s researchers is, helping to give hope to people like me all over the UK.
“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer my first thought was whether I would see daughter start school the next September. Triple negative breast cancer gets a lot of bad press, as an “aggressive” form of breast cancer, and is particularly challenging to treat if it spreads.
“When I had chemotherapy in 2015, I lost all my hair, which I found particularly hard as it makes a private disease become very public. I had no choice in losing my hair back then, so when I heard about the £1,000 challenge, I decided to do something positive. I was proud to shave my head to support others going through cancer treatment and to help make important research happen, which it’s so inspiring to see today.”
HRH The Prince of Wales has been Breast Cancer Now’s Royal Patron since 1998 and in 1999 he opened the charity’s Research Centre as the UK’s first dedicated breast cancer research centre. Today, the Research Centre is globally renowned for bringing together world leaders in key scientific fields and enabling rapid progress in breast cancer research. The Research Centre currently houses more than 70 researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), with multidisciplinary science from bench to bedside all taking place under one roof.
As well as meeting Breast Cancer Now supporters, His Royal Highness met some of the Breast Cancer Now funded scientists working in the Research Centre and learnt about key breast cancer research milestones that have been achieved and are benefitting people affected by the disease.
His Royal Highness’ visit comes at a time when Breast Cancer Now, like many medical research charities, has been forced to reduce its investment in research due to a drop in fundraising income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and highlighted why the support of individuals like Ann has never been more important.
Claire Pulford, Associate Director of Community and Events at Breast Cancer Now, said:
“We were so proud to invite Ann to meet our Royal Patron HRH The Prince of Wales during his visit to our Research Centre, to say thank you for her amazing fundraising efforts.
“In 1999, the money raised by our £1,000 Challengers enabled us to open the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Centre as the UK’s first dedicated breast cancer research centre, and the £1,000 challenge has continued every year since. Without the support of amazing fundraisers like Ann, the world-class research breakthroughs we’ve achieved in the 21 years would not be possible.
“Yet despite the publics continued support, our work has been significantly impacted by the pandemic – our researchers lost 230,000 hours in labs across the UK in the first wave, and we’ve endured a blow to our fundraising income that means we’re now less able to fund new science.”
“Every year around 55,000 women and 370 men in the UK are diagnosed with this devastating disease. That’s why we need long-term investment in research, to enable new breakthroughs that can transform the lives of people affected by breast cancer.”
Every year around 170 people in Southwark are diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Now estimates that almost 11,000 people could have been living with undiagnosed breast cancer in the UK at the end of 2020 due to the pandemic. Innovative breast cancer research has never been more urgently needed.
For more information about Breast Cancer Now or to help make world-class research and life-changing care happen visit www.breastcancernow.org