Friends who battled breast cancer throw fund-raiser to say thank you

Having good friends when you are going through possibly the worst time of your life has been vital for pals Debbie Valentine and Shelley Gluyas.

Thursday, 25th October 2018, 3:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 10:53 am
Shelley Gluyas and Debbie Valentine at the charity ball for Cancer Research UK and Dementia UK

The pair were diagnosed with breast cancer within months of each other and have propped each other up during their low points.

Understanding how vital community support is, they held a charity event at Leyland Golf Club, raising £2,500 to be split between Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Dementia UK.One of the most poignant parts of the evening was when Shelley, of Buckshaw Village, shared her cancer journey with guests.The dental nurse told how she was diagnosed after finding a lump on her breast last October but was pleased to announce she has now finished her treatment.

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Organisers Kathie Bates, Charlotte Harrison, Debbie Valentine, Kris Williams and Janet Cowburn

The 36-year-old says: “I got diagnosed in October and Debbie, who is one of the managers above me, was diagnosed in December.“We have been treated at the same hospital and so it was nice to have somebody close by to talk to. I have found it extremely isolating as there has been hardly anyone my age. Although Debbie is a bit older than me, she is still of working age and understands the difficulty of balancing work.

“One of the issues I have been facing is fertility. I don’t have any children and having chemotherapy has put me into the menopause stage. I was put on fertility treatment but I couldn’t face it.“Because my mum and gran had breast cancer, I don’t want to have children and pass the gene on. I wouldn’t want them to go through what I have. Plus there is a good chance my cancer will come back.“I have finished my treatment and I do feel better but I have been struggling with fatigue.”

Debbie, 50, of Leyland, has also had family history of cancer, as her mum and aunt had the illness and her sister, Elaine Cockcroft, is also undergoing treatment.She adds: “I was diagnosed last December through a routine mammogram. I have had four operations. After initial removal doctors found three more areas of cancer and I had to have a mastectomy and reconstruction. However, that failed and I have to go back for breast reconstruction because I got an infection.

The pair add they feel so lucky to have received so much support, they now want to give something back.

Shelley Gluyas, Debbie Valentine and Janet Cowburn

Debbie says: “Originally the charity event was organised as a nostalgic night to remember friends and family, past and present.“We chose to raise money for the two charities as they are close to our hearts. We want to support research into cancer and my mum died of dementia two years ago, so we wanted to highlight both areas. We felt breast cancer awareness month was the best time to do this.“Leukaemia research was also chosen as this is at present is close to a number of peoples hearts.“And Chorley Hospital has been phenomenal. We have had a lot of support and counselling and I feel very lucky to have had that.

“I did something similar for my 50th birthday party earlier this year and raised £2,200 for CRUK.“I have had a lot of help in organising the night. Janet Cowburn, Kris Williams, Kathie Bates and Charlotte Harrison have given a up a lot of time to set the charity ball up.

“The event was a huge success, raising more than £2,500, to be split between the two charities.“A huge raffle took place and so many generous local people donated, with a star prize of two nights away in the Lake District at the Hydro Hotel.“Shelley bravely talked about her journey living with breast cancer over the past 12 months and how new friendships have been made.”

Shelley adds: “LCFT has been fantastic and I feel so lucky to work there as they supported me through a phased return.“I wanted to help with this fund-raiser as there is not actually that much research into the type of breast cancer I have, which is triple negative. So raising money for anything that will help research is so important to me.

Shelley Gluyas at this year's Race for Life in Preston

“I am currently on a five-year clinical trial, known as add aspirin, where I could be on a placebo, or any dose of aspirin. Anything I can do to help means a lot to me.“I have had a lot of support through networking. I joined Younger Breast Cancer Network for the under 45s and I have found that really useful as I speak to others in the same situation. “I have also found help in Pink Sapphires at Vine House, in Preston.

“When I was on chemotherapy I was so ill I couldn’t leave the house so it was nice to go on Facebook and chat. It makes you feel better and less isolated.“You can get tips from people who have gone through the same. For example, someone told me to get a PICC line - a catheter which goes in your arms and doesn’t damage the vein. It is amazing the things you pick up when you share experiences, as I would not have known otherwise.”

Shelley Gluyas
Shelley Gluyas, Debbie Valentine and Sue Ball