Our Stories

Stories from group members


Hi my name is Joanne Sowerby, I am very proud to be the Founder and Chairperson of Bosom Family Support.

September 13th 2012 was quite possibly one of the worst days of my life, I went in to the Pink Rose with a small lump, and an hour later was being told there was a significant chance that it was cancer.  My husband, Ian and I didn’t sleep properly for the next week.  The following Thursday we returned and I was told I had cancer.

Having to tell the children, my family and then hearing Ian tell him mum and dad were some of the worst moments. I just felt guilty, I know nobody wanted me to feel like that, but I was putting my family through all of this, and that broke my heart.

I had the lumpectomy, chemotherapy, a blood clot along the way, followed by radiotherapy, oophorectomy, put in the menopause and am now on arimidex.

It wasn’t easy there were dark days, but my lovely hubby Ian just took over and looked after me. My children Tom, Emily and Harry were so brave and my family and friends amazing.  On my journey I met Anne, Angela, Jane, ladies who have a very special place in my heart.

Cancer is utterly crap.  It’s changed me, shaped us as a family, but I like to think out of it something positive has grown.  I am now eagerly awaiting my 10 year check, which is due in October.

Whilst I do lots for Bosom Family Support, I don’t know if people realise how much all of the people of Bosom Family Support have supported me in getting over Cancer. When treatment is over, your hair grows back, and whilst the physical reminders of cancer fade, the emotional reminders stay with you for a long time. Cancer does strip you quite literally of everything you were, Bosom Family Support has helped me to find the ‘new’ me, and to be confident in that person.


My name is Jane and I had breast cancer. A routine mammogram found the tumour in October 2012 and I had a biopsy the day before flying to Australia for a month’s holiday.

Life goes on hold once cancer is diagnosed and we think about the events we might miss. Family and friends are so important during treatment and without their understanding and support it would be easy to give up. I didn’t always consider the effect it had on them, just concentrated on surviving all that was thrown at me. Sometimes I felt as if I was in a long, dark, endless tunnel.

My treatment included a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, herceptin and years of taking Anastrazole. One more mammogram and my five years are up. I took my last tablet on my granddaughters 16th birthday. I was very fortunate to meet Jo Sowerby and become part of Bosom Family Support. Having other people who understand what we have been through is very important, more so to me as I am a widow, living alone. My husband died from cancer and I was determined it wouldn’t get me. So far so good.

Life is precious so I am grabbing mine with both hands and living it to the full. Yes, I did find the light at the end of my tunnel and long may it shine.

David tells the story from the angle of a parent and a partner.


When people used to talk about other people with cancer, I used to feel for them but not until it happens to someone close to you do you really realize what a dreadful illness it is.  When Joanne and Ian told us that she had got it in 2012 at first, we were numb but as reality kicked in we were very sad and angry at the same time, how could this be happening to someone so young who with a lovely husband and young family had everything to look forward to. Joanne had so much energy and with so much get up and go did far more than she really should, not only for her close family but many others as well.

My wife, Elaine and I helped as much as we could as Joanne went to hell and back with operations, chemo and radio-therapy, coincidently Ian had just been made redundant and was on hand to give her and the children a great deal of support. However, in true Joanne fashion there was that steely determination to beat this and to try not to show how poorly she really was especially to her children. Gradually Joanne improved and although from time to time there were set backs she made light of them and even made jokes about her new “Hair Do” whether it was a wig of just a ribbon tied around her head. Once Joanne was really on the mend and the idea formed to create a support group for women who had been through and were going through what she had had to suffer there was no stopping her.

Of course, Elaine and I gave her all the help and support we could and some good advice, slow down Joanne, might as well have talked to a brick wall. BFS was then formed from this idea and you all know how that has progressed into such a magnificent group of ladies.

Almost four years on New Year’s Eve, Elaine was given the dreaded news that she too had breast cancer. Numbness, tears and why us? We followed Joanne’s lead and were determined to fight as hard as we could. The worst moments came when I had to tell our close family, lots of tears but as with all close family’s they gave us all the support we needed. The staff at the Pink Rose Suite were fabulous, especially Mr Mustafa the surgeon and Amanda and Lisa the breast care nurses. Once Elaine had recovered from her operation we got some good news her cancers were of a kind that could be treated by radiotherapy alone and so we made the daily trips to Castle Hill for 4 weeks, again the staff here were brilliant, so reassuring and kind.

Elaine has always been a regular member of BFS and has met some wonderful friends there who I have got to know as well. I now hold an annual putting competition at Holme Hall Golf Club which has become their regular meeting place and where they hold their choir practice. The main lessons I have learnt from the last few years is that despite this dreadful illness, some good can come out of it…new friendships, new interests, the thought that you are not alone in fighting it.


My name is Elaine, I received my letter to attend for my Mammogram, when I got there the machine had broken down so I had to wait for another appointment. I duly went along and a week later I received a letter to go to the Pink Rose Suite at Grimsby. I had a biopsy on my left breast and was told a cancer had formed.

Obviously upset but anxious to get on with treatment the Consultant wanted me to go for an MRI Scan which then showed up cancer in my right breast, I had two different types of Cancer. On February the 16th 2016 I was admitted for an operation. Everyone was so supportive and I just wanted to get on with it. The Consultant and Staff were excellent. I did not have to go for Chemotherapy just radiotherapy. I was relieved about that.

Support from family and friends was overwhelming and my one year check was all clear so all was well. I have so many friends at Bosom Family Support and am thankful for them all. Most of all my lovely daughter in law Joanne who went through all this and more and who has been a real inspiration to me and many others.


In 2012 my best friend was diagnosed with HER2 breast cancer, I was devastated for her but I vowed to be with her by her side throughout her journey. I know that she has really benefited from being a member of this extremely supportive group at that time in her life when she needed help from fellow sufferers who totally understood what she was going through and who were able to share each other’s experiences with her.

When she lost her beautiful hair she was afraid to show us at first but she soon got round to the fact that with or without hair she was beautiful in our eyes and that we still loved and cared for her and that “Parker” the wig became topic of many a conversation throughout the following months till her hair grew back.

We have known each other since school approximately 40+ years ago and both of us had a love of singing from our school choir days so when she asked if I fancied singing in the newly formed choir I jumped at the chance.

The Bosom Belles Choir is a “feel good” bunch of ladies that meet every two weeks. Some of the members are from the support group, some are relatives of the members of the group and some are friends of group members, but we are all there for one purpose….. the support network continued.

We have a lovely choir mistress called Janine who has the unenviable task of trying to whip us all into shape learning new songs and some old ones whilst trying to maintain some form of order whilst also having a laugh and general banter amongst the singing, and it is true you really do feel better for a good old warble.

I have had the privilege to be asked to be an honorary member of the support group of ladies that usually meet on the 3rd Wednesday of the month.  There is usually something going on whether it be a cup of tea and a chat or an activity.  I have seen first hand the warmth, feeling and support that these ladies give to each other and that they are able to laugh, joke and sometimes cry in the face of the adversity.

I am honoured and proud to play a small part within this lovely group so they can continue with the great support and friendship that they give to each other at the most difficult times when they need each other the most – long live Bosom Family Support.

My name is Marie and I first met Jo when she was attending hospital for her treatment as I was her chemotherapy nurse, I had previously had kidney cancer in 2011 and was aware of how cancer can affect your whole life.

When Jo told me she was setting up a support group, I did not feel as if I wanted to be involved as I did not know if I would be attending as a nurse or someone who had a cancer diagnosis. But after the first meeting I was hooked. The group is so much fun and Jo always ensures there is lots going on to suit everyone. From fashion shows to dancing, crafts and yoga I have experienced new things through the group in a safe and supportive way.  I hope I have also provided a link between the support group and what else is going on in the wider cancer community. The choir is wonderful and I have been able to bring my mum along who has always loved singing.

Bosom Family Support is a wonderful group and I would encourage anyone to attend in the difficult times after a diagnosis, it’s amazing when you realise that you are no longer alone.


In 2010 my right nipple started to bleed. I got this checked out and had a mammogram where they found it to be calcification which they took out.  This I thought was the end.

Towards the end of 2012 we got a black Labrador called Rocky.  After a few weeks of having him he started to smell my right breast and wouldn’t leave me alone.  This worried me and my partner Paul. Then the bleeding started again. Paul said I needed to get it checked again.  At the time my mum was poorly with Alzheimer’s and deteriorating and sadly died.  After the funeral I went to the doctors who couldn’t feel anything but referred me to Grimsby for a check. Here I had another mammogram and biopsy.

On 28th February I was diagnosed with HER2 Positive breast cancer.  I think deep down I knew I had it but was it was still a shock.  My emotions were all over the place especially as I was still grieving for my mum.

On June 4th I had my lymph nodes removed where thankfully it hadn’t spread. In June I had a mastectomy with an expander put in straight away.  This was only until I had my reconstruction.

In October 2013 I started my chemotherapy which I was so scared about but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I was dreading losing my hair but surprised myself as it didn’t seem to bother me as much as I thought. Even Paul said it suited me.  My two friends that were with me when I had it shaved off were worse than me and were shocked at how well I responded. I loved my wig too (called Parker), nobody could tell it wasn’t mine. Once I had finished my chemo I had to have Herceptin for a year.

In October 2014 I had my reconstruction which was a tram flap where muscle, fat and skin was taken from my abdomen to create a new breast. This was a 9 hour operation so was very scared.  But it was the best thing I did and I had an excellent surgeon called Jenny Smith.

It has been a long journey and I am now 6 years clear.  Along the way I have joined the support group, joined the choir and met some great friends through them. I had great support from Paul and family and friends.

One last thing, Rocky never smelt my breast again after my mastectomy.  My one clever dog.


Whilst on holiday in Tenerife Easter 2012 I discovered a lump in my breast. On 9th May 2012 I was given life changing news that I had breast cancer. After initial treatment I then unexpectedly went on to have chemo, herceptin and for five years tamoxifen.

During my treatment I met two lovely ladies Angela and Jo our new friendship was my coping mechanism. We laughed, cried, talked and most importantly helped each other throughout our gruelling months of treatment.

In 2014 Jo decided to set up a group called Bosom Family Support. This group has given ladies who have been diagnosed with breast cancer somewhere to meet, talk, laugh and share their cancer journey. For me, this group is an extension of what we three ladies started five years ago. I look forward to meeting my new family every month and after feeling very alone in the early diagnosis I now hopefully help other ladies not to have this feeling.

BFS is not only somewhere where we meet and talk, we have been involved in endless activities such as; flower arranging, dance classes, bowling, arts and crafts, afternoon tea, annual ball, beauty classes, pitch and putt, meals out. We have also had professionals come along to meetings and talk to us about issues that are relevant to us during and after treatment. I am also a member of Bosom Belles, a choir who meet every fortnight which has been set up for group members who enjoy singing. Two fantastic groups who help to get you through your cancer journey and like many of us who still go – stay positive. Thank you BFS ❤xxx

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