Emma Gilchrist tells us why she is fundraising for METUPUK

Emma Gilchrist tells us why she is fundraising for METUPUK

“My little sister Helen is 39 years old. She is a married mum of 3 girls, all under the age of 9, and is a nurse with 22 years of service in the RAF. She is a much-loved wife, an adored mummy, a treasured daughter, a dearly loved sister, niece, and aunt, and a favoured friend and colleague to many.

Devastatingly, she is also one of the 30% of women whose primary breast cancer metastasizes.

My sister called me on the 20th of December 2021, not for the cheerful, pre-Christmas chat I was expecting. But with the most devastating and painful news, I have ever received. Emma, it’s back. It can’t be cured. The whole family had Christmas together and it passed in a haze of tears, panic, and forced smiles for our little ones.

We began immediately to search for support. Who can help? Who will understand? We quickly found METUPUK and a tiny spark of hope in the darkest days of all of our lives. There was somewhere to turn to. There is a community. There is a voice. In the days and weeks that followed Helen’s diagnosis, I received many messages from friends all wanting “to do something”. Can we fundraise? Can we donate?

It took a little while for us to piece together the best way forward for people’s good intentions. With the founding members being myself and 2 of Helen’s friends, and 2 of mine, we created our fundraising group “Hearts & Hope 4 Helen“.

We set an ambitious target to raise £100,000. It was actually Helen’s insistence that monies must go to METUPUK, having been such incredible support in those first horrendous days, and indeed continuously since. It did not take long for us to find out how little funding research for secondary breast cancer receives! Something which is just incomprehensible given this disease is the killer!

This is what takes more lives of women under the age of 50 than any other. We decided a bold 25% would be given to METUPUK to help them to continue being the advocate of the secondary breast cancer community, continue to fight for fair access to drugs, and to raise all-important awareness of what many patients feel is “breast cancers dirty little secret.”

The rest of the funds are for Helen to use as she so wishes to best benefit her life. Our greatest hope is that she will find a life-extending trial or a new treatment, and having a reserve of funds available will allow her access without delay if said treatments incur costs due to being abroad, self-funded, etc. It has been simply incredible to feel the support for H&H4H, and the unrelenting momentum which has seen us gather over 3000 followers on our social media platforms, and raise close to £70k in just 3 months!

We are overwhelmed by messages from people saying they did not know about secondary breast cancer, but thanks to us sharing the work of METUPUK, they now do. This includes women who themselves have had a primary diagnosis but only due to our group and sharing METUPUK infographics, are now aware and informed about secondary symptoms.

For me, and the rest of Helen’s family, and her friends, raising funds is the 1 positive thing that could ever have been borne from such devastation. Not only do we hope our efforts will make a difference in Helen’s life, and the lives of patients METUPUK fights for, but it has given us a focus to channel our energies into during a time when loved ones can feel so very helpless.

MET UP UK is the only patient advocacy group in the UK and needs your support. As we have found out, so little funds or support come from other charitable organisations and campaigns to help secondaries.

Please make a difference.

Stand with them.

They are dying for a cure.

31 every day.”