Cancer doesn't discriminate; it rips away your ability to have a sense of normality, whether it is day-to-day, or enabling you to make your five year plan. I have to admit, losing those dear to me allowed me to re-evaluate the importance of having a strong sense of family in my life. I chose to make positive changes, no matter how bad things may seem there is always someone who has it worse. I willed myself along and learnt to be grateful for what I have. I can't pretend it was easy: it certainly wasn't.
The impact of Cancer was far too big to handle on my own, reaching out was the only way I know how to cope. After experiencing Cancer in my life I decided to raise money for Cancer Research UK in loving memory of my Mother Janet, Godmother Sandra and Aunt Denise who were tragically taken away from us far too early in life. These three beautiful women bought joy to so many lives and I miss them terribly.
As a child I have vivid memories of helping my Mother, Janet, get ready to go out, usually checking that her wig was straight and that she had drawn her eyebrows on evenly after her rounds of Chemotherapy. Our house was adapted with a walk in shower and a stair lift. Both my brother and I thought the stair lift was great fun - whizzing up and down the staircase!
We both experienced an endless amount of hospital visits to see her. When she needed to stay away for a while she would send us postcards with stories and jokes. In hindsight, I can recognise that she was protecting us from the reality of battling such a formidable disease with her good nature and humour. Unfortunately my brother and I spent a lot of time in Foster Care, especially when our mother became terminally ill.
When I visited the hospice, at 10 years old, I don't remember sadness, only the happiness which came from the nurses and the beautiful garden (where we later planted a rose bush in memory of our beautiful Mother). Unfortunately, we lost our Father four years later, not from cancer, but from what we like to believe was a broken heart.
After we were orphaned, my brother and I then went into full time Foster care - unfortunately in separate homes - but it has made our relationship stronger today. My Godmother and Aunt were part of our lives and helped us get through some tough times, Cancer then took them away as well. These were some of the darkest times.
Like I touched on before, I willed myself along and learnt to be grateful for what I have. The obscenity of cancer made me put off things in my life in case I did not feel able to deal with the emotional toll it brought. The little things are what hit hard the most; not having my parents to pick me up from a school trip, no family dinners, or no Mother to hold me close as I wept about not being able to find the right pair of shoes for an important date. I once cried over carrot and coriander soup in the supermarket because I suddenly remembered that my Mother used to make it for me when I had a cold.
Last summer, however, at the age of 26, I got married at Marwell Zoo to the most wonderful man called Bruce. There are no words to describe the gap that was so evident on such an important day in my life. Instead of focusing on what may have been one of the toughest days of my life, I have chosen to remember it as one of the happiest. As a nod to these incredible, resilient and courageous women, I gave Cancer Research UK pin badges as wedding favours. Our guests wore them with pride and respect for those that were not able to join us; they were, to me, more meaningful than a traditional wedding favour. My Mother, Godmother and Aunt were part of mine and my new husband's special day.
In between wedding dress fittings I also ran the Race for Life, not only as a way of get fit and for everyone to have a good laugh (I tend to run like Phoebe from 'Friends'), but to join in raising funds that are vital for the lifesaving work that Cancer Research UK does: in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer.
More recently, I was in a little car accident which has left me with a back problem. I am currently focusing my recovery on raising money for Cancer Research UK by completing various events such as Pretty Muddy, this time also for my Grandad who we lost recently.
In the last ten years, deaths from cancer have fallen, however, I dream for a day when cancer can no longer cause heartbreak amongst families like mine and will continue to help by raising money to make this dream a little closer to reality.
No matter how hard life gets, all I can say is don't lose hope. Within those tough moments, there is beauty. We can use our hope to show others that they are not alone.
Together we can beat Cancer.
Stacey is supporting Cancer Research UK's Give in Celebration, wedding favours. For further information visit cruk.org/favours