THIS year the Isle of Man’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer group celebrates its 20th birthday.
Founding member Jan Brooks, the group’s president, is proud of the progress it has made over those two decades.
As the group prepared last year to celebrate the milestone, Jan found herself on stage accepting the Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence award for Charity, Cultural and Social Enterprise.
‘We were delighted to be nominated as a group and really thrilled and very surprised to win,’ said Jan. ‘We are all volunteers and we happily give up a lot of time to Breakthrough Breast Cancer so it did mean an awful lot to win that award.’
So how does Jan, who is on the board of trustees for the main Breakthrough charity, feel the win affected the charity?
‘I felt it helped us to raise awareness of breast cancer to keep women reminded to both be aware of any breast changes and go for mammograms,’ she said.
‘We felt it was a great honour to win it and because of that, and because of the good publicity you get out of it, it had that knock on effect of making women aware and join in some of our events.’
Breakthrough is dedicated to raising awareness and to funding research and generally helping women talk about breast cancer.
‘That’s what we feel we have done in 20 years,’ said Jan.
‘People didn’t talk about breast cancer before and now they do, women are much less afraid. It has been about taking the fear out and getting women to go early for checks.
‘It’s about getting women to go early for checks and getting over the message that early diagnosis saves lives. It is also about giving hope to people when they are diagnosed with the disease.
‘Through Breakthrough’s research, new genes have been discovered and advances made in the treatment of the disease, many more people are surviving than 20 years ago.
‘I think the Awards for Excellence gave us a great boost. At Breakthrough’s head office in London they think it’s an excellent project.’
Jan is just as passionate now about the group’s work as she was 20 years ago.
‘We have a lovely, happy group, Angie Aire is the best chairman you could have,’ she said. ‘Our fundraising events have increased since the group has got bigger and Angie’s at the helm.
‘We make a good team.
‘I do genuinely think the Awards helped us. It gave us a huge morale boost.’
This year’s Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence, in association with RBS International, will be held on November 15.
Application forms are available at www.iomtoday.co.im/afe.
If you would like to find out more about what entering can do for you, contact Trudi Williamson (tjw(at)newsiom.co.im) or Sarah Radcliffe (sarah.radcliffe(at)newsiom.co.im) or 695695 for more information.