The Brazette

Tracey – I thought I was too young for breast cancer

03 April 2018

Tracey Gledhill

Meet Tracey, today’s Boob Champion and woman with a finger in every CoppaFeel! pie! As well as being a Boobette for our charity, Tracey’s an expert fundraiser who’s extremely skilled at persuasion… one friend is taking on our trek to Transylvania later this year and another is running the Brighton Marathon next month! When she’s not organising balls or coercing friends into raising funds she’s busy spreading the boob-loving word, from talking norks on social media to organising radio and newspaper interviews, Tracey has it covered. We spoke to her about being an ambassador for our charity and how it feels to be described as “inspirational” whenever she visits a venue!

Hi Tracie! Tell us a little bit about what you get up to when you’re not talking boobs…

As well as being a Boobette I’m a mum of four and I run a dog rescue centre. I love to read, paint and write and I am a national title holder pageant queen. I also have had a bilateral mastectomy, which is one of the reasons I am so passionate about cancer awareness!

How did you get involved with CoppaFeel!?

I got involved with the charity after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of 2016! It was a huge shock because I was young and a mum and I thought that “cancer is something that happens to my gran, right?”. No one had told me that I could or would get breast cancer. Despite undergoing chemotherapy and having a mastectomy and radiotherapy, my treatment wasn’t completely successful and I have something called “residual cancer”. I feel as though i’m playing a waiting game as the chance of my cancer spreading is therefore pretty high. I can’t change that but what I can do is make other people aware of what to look out for and how to check. Which means that if they ever do find something unusual, they have the best possible chance of being diagnosed at an early stage, when treatments are most effective and survival rates are higher.

What does being a Boobette involve?

I feel really privileged that I get the chance to represent CoppaFeel! in schools, colleges, businesses and community groups (basically anywhere someone will listen) to share my story and get the nation clued up on boob checking. As well as being an opportunity to demonstrate why it’s so important to get to know what’s normal for you, i’m also there to help give people the tools they need to make checking their boobs a regular habit. I love being able to do this in a friendly and informal way, and it’s amazing to know that by sharing my story i’m really making a difference!

Breast Cancer gets talked about a lot – do you think there’s still a need to educate more people?

A million times yes! There are still too many people being diagnosed at a late stage and there are still too many people dying from secondary breast cancer. Plus, there are still lots of misconceptions out there about breast cancer, like the belief that it only affects older people, or women. I often go to events and encounter men who think my message isn’t relevant to them, but men get breast cancer too, and they also need to get used to checking their pecs. 

What has been the best thing about your experience?

Someone asked me whether I would go back and change what happened to me, if i could. The truth is, I wouldn’t. I wish I could change the outcome of my treatment, but my diagnosis has made me a better person and working with CoppaFeel! has given me a positive focus. I am grateful for the chance I get to go and talk to people about getting to know their bodies – I want to educate as many people as I can, so that no one else needs to have the same conversation with their children that I did. I am proud that my friends have taken my passion on board and want to help fundraise and spread the word, and i’m proud to be doing my part in spreading Kris’ message. The other Boobettes inspire me constantly and I’m lucky to have their friendship, and I get to look at Greg James’ torso on a big screen every time I give a presentation… what could be better!

You’ve racked up more than 75 hours of volunteering since joining the Boobettes last year – how have you seen your hard work pay off?

I adore what I do and hearing people say they will starting checking is a huge thing for me! However, the defining moment was receiving an email from Boob HQ telling me that a young mum had been diagnosed early as a direct result of coming to one of my talks. Hearing that made everything I have done feel so worth while.

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