Clare Hodgson was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in May 2016, which resulted in an aggressive course of chemotherapy and a mastectomy.
The lack of support groups in the Consett and Derwentside area, for those going through treatment to share their experiences, quickly became apparent to Clare who decided to take things in to her own hands. This saw the birth of Derwentside Breast Friends.
“I was asked so many times if I could speak to friends of friends who had been diagnosed about my experiences of treatment, and tell them about how it was for me” explained Clare.
“As a result, just over a year ago I decided to take the bull by the horns and set up a Facebook group. I was amazed by the number of people commenting and engaging with the group, so after a few weeks I decided we needed a get together and Derwentside Breast Friends has grown from there.
“We have round about 12 regular members that come to the group’s weekly meetings, and it seems to be growing from strength to strength with new members coming through the door each week.”
With support from Karbon Homes’ investing in communities fund, Derwentside Breast Friends is taking it to the next level with a marketing campaign to help raise awareness of their presence in the area.
The group was awarded a small grant of £932 which has funded the design and print of a range of marketing materials, from business cards and leaflets, to pull up display banners and t-shirts.
Jess Wray, Community Connector at Karbon Homes said: “I first met with Clare and Emma from Derwentside Breast Friends in October 2018, and after attending one of the Derwentside Breast Friends weekly meetings, I instantly recognised just how special this group was.
“After chatting with them about their plans to expand the work of the support group it became apparent they were the perfect fit for a Karbon Homes’ small grant, which would enable them to get the message out about the amazing work they do.
“Derwentside Breast Friends is a great example of people in the coming together to support one another and the positive impact groups like these have on communities is invaluable.”
Clare added: “Our message this World Cancer Day is don’t go through this battle alone. So many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer talk of how they don’t put themselves first. How they bottle their feelings in order to be strong for their families and never actually take the time to talk about what they’re going through.
“It is very daunting to coming to a support group, but I would encourage people to come join us and see that it’s nothing to be scared of.
“We’re a great group of ladies, all of who have been on very different breast cancer journeys. We have fun, if you want to have a cry you can have a cry, and we’re there to support one another and offer vital information. We’re here to give one another a boost, one that sometimes only other people who know what it is that you’re going through can give.”
Derwentside Breast Friends meets on a on the 2nd Thursday evening of each month from 7.30-9pm and on the last Friday of each month 10.30-12am St.Patrick’s Hall in Consett.
To find out more, contact Clare Hodgson on 07960 355 177 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to keep up with the future calendar dates, including group activities, special speakers, and social events, find the group on Facebook, Derwentside Breast Friends.