CancerCare's Phoenix Group stars in national women's magazine

on Wednesday, 13 December 2017.

Woman's Own features Knocker Jotter

Stars of our 'Knocker Jotter' are featured in the Christmas edition of Woman's Own magazine (December 25 edition - now on sale in shops).

Here, Andrea Partridge, describes how the Knocker Jotter came about and tells of the inspirational women involved in CancerCare's Phoenix Group.

When I was told I had breast cancer, I couldn’t even say the words aloud.

My husband Mark and I were so shocked. It was advanced stage 3, and I was told I’d need to have my left breast removed.

It was September 2012 and, aged 46, I just needed to do whatever it took to make sure I’d be OK.

Those next months were hard, but with the help and support of the charity CancerCare and, of course, Mark and my kids, Jenna, then 24, John, 19, and Elena, nine, I madeit through the chemo, full nodeclearance, mastectomy, radiotherapy, and finally the reconstruction.

Desperate to give something back, I started volunteering for the charity.

Talking to patients, I decided to set up a Facebook support group, Phoenix Cancer, which would reach out to more people.

Then in September last year, I went to meet a woman about to havea double mastectomyand reconstruction.

She was extremely worried about what was going to happen and I took along a fellow volunteer, Sarah, whohad been through the same procedure.

We went to a cafe and chatted about our experiences, but I sensed that she wanted to see our scars.

‘I can show you if you’d like,’ I said to her. Sarah nodded.

‘Me too.’ We took her to the toilets and lifted up our tops. It mustsound ridiculous.

‘Look at my new breasts – they even move,’ I said, jumping up and down. Sarah grinned.

‘And mine don’t,’ she said. We’d had different types of reconstruction – mine used tissue from my stomach, while Sarah had implants.

As we compared the bounciness of our breasts, we all fell about laughing, which was exactly what the woman needed to see.

Sarah and I were cancer survivors, happy, strong and unashamed. Later that day, I wrote about what had happened on our Facebook group.

Everyone agreed that, just by being honest and open, we’d helped this woman immeasurably.

My sister suggested we make a calendar. But the more we talked, the more we realised we could do something more – we could create a book full of pictures of topless breast cancer survivors, to let women going through cancer treatment know they weren’t alone.

And so, the Knocker Jotter was born.

I put a request for anyone willing to take part on our Facebook group and was inundated with people wanting to be involved.

So in March 2017, I, along with 15 other women, gathered on a farm just outside Lancaster and bared all.

Cancer can rob a woman of her identity, leaving physical and mental scars that can last a lifetime.

But we wanted our images to capture what we had gained – strength, friendship, love, life – not what we had lost.

The 402-page notebook was launched in June 2017 and all the money from sales is being donated to CancerCare.

People say that we are brave, but we wanted to show that we don’t need to stay in the shadows. I’m so proud to know we are empowering others.

That’s the best gift of all.