Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Sunshine Group Update 

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we took the opportunity to catch up with our 2023 ‘Women Making a Difference’ award winner, Ann Coffey, who runs the  Sunshine Group breast cancer support group at Liverpool University Hospital Trust.

Ann was recognised for her amazing work with the group over the past ten years, while in remission herself. In that time she has grown the group from six members to more than 400 women, with the group is run by patients for patients to ensure that those affected by breast cancer can access support, events, holistic therapies, an ear to listen, and a good cup of tea.

The charity does not get funding and relies solely on donations so Ann dedicates her life to raising all funds by organising a multitude of events. The group’s members meet regularly to offer support and solidarity through their breast cancer journey. 

Congratulations again on your win, Ann! What have you been working on since the MWOTY 2023 awards?

“The group is expanding very quickly and we are busy getting things ready for the Sunshine Ball (Saturday 25th November 2023), which after eight years runs itself now and we have lots of donations. Our main focus has been on connecting further with health centres and GP surgeries. This is resulting in me and group members going to events to showcase the group and the support it offers. This is becoming very successful, with constant emails and phone calls to join the group. We have also completely refurbished the Royal Clinic Patients’ Room and bought two TVs for the waiting areas, after doing the same for Aintree’s two years ago.”

How has your MWOTY award win helped you to further your goals and ambitions for the group?

“The award has opened avenues like those I have mentioned and has been recognised as a very high achievement by the hospital. With the award and the NHS logo, companies we approach for sponsorship know that we are committed to help breast cancer patients through their journey and they want to support us, even inviting us into their companies to talk to staff.”

So, what’s coming up next – what plans do you have for 2024?

“We need to extend our planning group and identify more group members than can go out and talk to people and fundraise, as monies subsidise our events and buy items for the clinic on a yearly basis. We are also buying 500 folders for patients each year, this is for when they start treatment to keep all their paperwork like appointment letters in. We want to enjoy ourselves and to subsidise events, but to do this we need to fundraise – there is lots of information on our website for everyone to see, with details of events and how to fundraise.”

As it is breast cancer awareness month, what messages about breast cancer do you think it is most important for people to hear during this awareness period?

“My main message to people is to go for screening but most importantly to know how to self-examine and to do it regularly,  that is crucial. I’ve just done an interview for Cheshire and Merseyside Cancer Alliance (which will soon be made public) and I can’t stress enough this point. Also a group like ours looks after the social, emotional and psychological side of the disease – patients need to be uplifted at a very difficult time.”

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Image credit: Wild Kind Photography

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