Revisiting Tales of the NYC Postcard Tributes

To find out more about the 60 Postcards journey so far, you can read a summary here.

Within a week, I’ve heard of two people embarking on postcard adventures of their own. It reminded me of the NYC tributes and how many of those stories are yet to be told. With a promised move towards the creation of a tribute collective (in November this year), I wanted to revisit the four postcard messages I have shared before; a taster of things to come…

Grand Central Terminal: A Postcard for John

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Postcard Message:

“Great! You found me!

My name is Jo, I live in Dorset, England. I’ve written this card in memory of my brother John who sadly lost his battle with cancer 7 years ago, age 56. During his life John loved to travel so I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to join the ’60 Postcards’ Project and let his memory do some traveling.

Now you have found this, please do get in touch. I’d love to know about you and were/when you found my card. 

Here’s hoping, Jo xx’

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Pauline and Jo: A Tribute Filled With Friendship

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Postcard Message:

“We always knew Jo would go before us. She’d been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 14 but ‘made it’ to 45 so we sort of thought she was invincible.

Jo had been my best friend since we had a fight over a boy in the playground in the 80’s. That boy (& many others) went by but we remained the best of friends even though I moved 200 miles away. Her legacy lives on through her beautiful daughter who through the grief aced her A Levels & this month starts uni.

Jo would have been so proud and I’m so proud to have had such an amazing best friend,

Pauline.”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Lucy & Linda; A Message on The High Line

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Postcard Message:

“To whoever finds this postcard – local or traveller, I send you positive energy from London, UK.

I am writing this to spread the memory of my mother – Linda who passed away in 2003. 3 months before this we took a trip to NYC having the trip of our lives. It remains a very special place to me due to these memories of happy times. My mum wanted to travel and see the world a great deal more than she had the chance to. I’m lucky enough to travel monthly with work and take her memory with me. Most recently to Greece – as on the front of this card. 

Tell your close ones you love them today. Lucy 🙂 x”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

A Heartfelt Note for Rose on the Brooklyn Bridge

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Postcard Message:

“Hi there,

Please don’t throw me away but take a few minutes to read.  

This card is in memory of my mother, Rose, who loved New York. Sadly I never really knew her. She gave birth to me in Dublin in 1953 when she was just 17. She looked after me for 18 months but in May 1955 gave me up for adoption. I was adopted and went to live in England. She then set off on the boat for New York, where she worked hard and made many friends. It wasn’t until 1987 when I decided to trace her that I found she had been taken ill in 1974, returned to Ireland and died aged only 39. I met her sisters and brother and heard who an amazing, loving and lovely person she was. I don’t know if it’s genetic but my daughter loves New York and would love to live and work there.

Not a day goes by without me thinking of Rose and I’m sure that between 1955 and 1974, while living in New York, not a day would have gone by without her thinking of me and praying that life worked out OK. I can let her know now that it did. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Tony.”

R E A D   M O R E…

*****

Thank you again to Jo, Pauline, Lucy and Tony for sharing your words and memories.

I look forward to posting more of the NYC postcards in the coming weeks along with other articles from readers. If you have created a tribute in memory of someone or would like a platform to share your story, then please email me on 60postcards@gmail.com. Come join the collective.

Speak soon,

Rachael x

An Open Letter To Mum & The Paperback Countdown

Life is manic at the moment – beautiful at times and tough in others. Last week was the three-year anniversary of Mum’s death and so I decided to turn to my escape once more, using words to mark the occasion. I have spent a lot of time writing about Mum but this time I decided to write to her through an open letter. It is posted on my Huffington Post page and here is again in full:

“Dear Mum,

I cannot begin to comprehend how three years have gone by since you left this world.

On one hand it seems like just yesterday we were nattering away on the phone, heading out to share a cream tea or off to the theatre together. On the other hand I feel like it has been forever since I have seen your warm smile and heard your infectious giggle (which would escalate into hysterics, tears streaming down your face).

I miss you. I miss you so, so much. I miss your calming, nurturing ways. I miss the way I could call you with any problem – no matter how trivial – and you would talk me through it and help me to find the perfect solution. I miss linking my arm through yours. I miss your hugs.

I have not forgotten the advice that you gave me in your final days – to allow myself to feel whatever I feel. I had a tough start with that, admittedly. I bottled things up and I put on a brave face – my, ‘I’m Okay’ mask – which I have observed as such a natural reaction for anyone who has lost a loved one. The trickiest of them all was being able to embrace moments of happiness without the sharp pain of guilt because you are not here. I’m getting there.

I have always been a terrible sleeper, as you know. I was once torn apart by nightmares that would haunt me night after night. Waking up from those was like losing you all over again. But, in the past year I have started to dream about you – beautiful you. Now there are times when I wake up and I feel like you have been right there beside me.

I have so much to thank you for, Mum. I don’t even know where to begin. Thank you for being so patient with me as a teen, when I probably had a few moments of being a bit of a sarcastic madam (she still makes the odd appearance). Thank you for passing down your love of crosswords, although somehow it seems your intelligence didn’t make it so I am yet to complete one. Thank you for encouraging me to follow both my head and my heart. Most importantly, thank you for teaching me that family comes above all else and for showing me, Dad and the girls, so much love.

Now, this may seem a strange one but I would also like to thank you for my 28th Birthday gift of Eurostar vouchers. I always thought we would be able to go to Paris together someday. How I wish we’d had more time. But I want you to know that I put those vouchers to good use.

I was certain that you must still be a part of the trip so I decided to go to Paris to celebrate your 60th Birthday. While I was there, I left a creative tribute for you around the city. You would never believe how much has happened and how much your legacy has grown since that weekend. You are such an inspirational woman it is no wonder that there is so much magic behind it all.

You may be wondering why I am writing to you so openly. Well, you always taught me to be an honest person and as someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, sharing our story and my experience of grief through the written word has helped me immensely. On top of that, it seems to have opened up a discussion – a heart wrenching but necessary one – and with death as such a taboo in society, this can only be a good thing. By sharing our thoughts and feelings with each other it can help us to feel less alone. I know you would be a massive advocate of this.

I will never look for ‘acceptance’ and ‘closure’ or even begin to try to make sense of what has happened. I know that your death will stay with me forever. But I will continue to stay as strong as I can for you – finding my own way to deal with it day by day, month by month and year by year. I will never stop trying to make you proud. You always made me believe that I could take on the world and, as time has gone on, I have started to believe this again.

Saying goodbye now is easier than before. Because really, you are not gone, Mum. I am taking you with me every step of the way.

Yours always,

Rachael x”

I feel very lucky that so soon after such a difficult milestone, I am able to have the light of the paperback release ahead of me. It is exactly one week today and Simon and Schuster UK have started a twitter countdown:

If you are an avid tweeter, please share away and look out for the next one!

I will be back next week with more stories.

Until then, have a wonderful one.

Rachael x

Depression: Breaking Through the Barriers

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

The issue of mental health is a very topical one right now, especially with the tragic loss of Robin Williams who was suffering from depression. It is an extremely tough subject for me to write about as I have not experienced it myself and on researching for this piece, I realised just how little I know. I want to know.

With a subject that has hit the headlines so strongly it is no surprise that the internet is swamped with thousands of articles. Every one has a slightly different angle and some report slightly different statistics. Most have a journalist’s opinion entwined. Some are helpful, others are absolutely not. But, what we must remember is that, despite the fact that it is a vitally important talking point, Robin’s family and friends are in mourning. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for them to see so much written about the man they love and miss when they are in pain and shock.

One of the main points that is crystal clear from everything I have read, though, is that depression should not be simplified. It is an extremely complex condition – psychological or medical – which can be difficult to diagnose and to treat, often due to the stigma surrounding it. We need educating on the matter. We need to do more to help others. We need to encourage people to speak out.

I don’t feel that I am qualified to say much more on this. But, I do have friends who have suffered/are suffering from depression and one of them has bravely spoken out about their experience and her view of what needs to change:

 “When you are physically ill, like having the flu, most people tend to let others know (or the signs are obvious). This normally results in friends and family giving comfort and making you feel better. The difficultly with depression is that the signs may not be obvious or understood by others. When going through particularly difficult stages of depression the last thing you want to do is to socialise, to talk to loved ones, it’s too hard. Therefore when someone makes the brave step of letting a friend know it can be crushing when well-meaning advice further highlights the lack of understanding surrounding this illness. ‘You’ve just had a couple of bad weeks things will get better’, ‘You should go out, it will help you snap out if it’ or, ‘Things are going really well in your life right now, how can you possibly be depressed?’. This is such a frustrating circle, you fear getting the wrong reaction, you keep quiet which leads to a lack of discussion which keeps depression a hidden issue. Once you tell someone you have suffered from depression it is very unlikely that this will be forgotten. Can you remember the last time a friend had a cold? Did it affect what you thought of them as a person? I’m pretty sure it didn’t, not sure the same can be said about depression. It is not easy to understand especially if you have never personally experienced it. If someone is strong enough to share their experiences with you, there isn’t a perfect response that will solve everything. It will be challenging, it will take time but it is crucial to keep lines of communication open and ultimately will be the best thing you can do to play your part in breaking down the stigma associated with depression.”

I am so grateful to my friend for sharing this. It can’t have been easy to write, but I was blown away. So articulate, brave and honest. Ashley James hAshleyJamesas a huge following of her highly successful blog, www.ashleylouisejames.com. I have recently become one of those followers. I enjoy the eclectic mix of posts – on beauty, lifestyle, travel, books – but recently it was a post she published for the Metro on dealing with anxiety and depression that I believe was, by far, her most powerful piece yet. Through her words, she tries to give an insight into what it feels like for a sufferer using experiences that we can all relate to, Have you ever had a friend, a lover, a teacher, or a boss who constantly puts you down and makes you feel terrible? The beauty of having negative people in your life is that you can walk away from them, but when that voice is coming from your own head you can’t escape.’  Within her post she covers the frustration, just as my friend touched on, of when things may appear to be all OK to an outsider. She explains that although many would look on and say she has a fantastic life, there doesn’t have to be anything ‘wrong’ for you to suffer. The blog post has been syndicated on several sites and I smiled from afar as I saw the flurry of tweets – of deserved praise and thanks – that she was receiving on twitter for opening up. Despite my blog beginning due to a different experience to hers, I felt a connection to Ashley as she had written the post long before she published it, just as I had done with my first post about losing Mum. It’s a terrifying prospect to put yourself out there. ‘I want people to feel able to speak out’, was her closing comment and that is also a point that I have repeated on this blog and in my book. During a chat with my friend last night, we discussed that no matter what the issue may be – depression, bereavement, cancer – as much as we will continue to do everything we can to raise money for research and medication/cures, it is the preventative approach of raising awareness that we – as a society – have a huge amount of power over. Here are just a few of the many charities that offer support to those with mental health issues:

Depression Alliance  |  CALM  |  Young Minds  |  Sane  |  Mind

The inspirational aspect of this post today is for my friend, for Ashley and for all those who are speaking out. Together they are helping towards breaking through the barriers and squashing that unnecessary stigma. It may be, without realising, that there is someone close to us who is going through this. If we make sure we are educated and gain a better understanding on the topic, then we have more chance of helping those in need and to point them in the direction of help – towards charities such as the ones mentioned above.

Speak to you next week. Much love, Rachael x

Coppafeel then Stand Up To Cancer

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

Hey there!

This week’s inspiration post is about a charity and another movement which are doing a fantastic job at raising awareness about cancer and to encourage people to get fundraising and spread the word.

COPPAFEEL

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The lovely Kris was just 23 years old when she discovered a lump in one of her breasts. At such a young age it was brushed off as hormonal by doctors but over half a year later with the problem still there, Kris and her family were fighting to find out what was wrong. At this point Kris was diagnosed with breast cancer, and the worst thing about it was that the disease had already spread to her spine.

Kris’ story really stops and makes you think. We shouldn’t be complacent. We should never believe we are safe just because we are under a particular age range. Kris was undergoing chemo and radiotherapy when she should have been out and about living the life a 23-year-old should. But what Kris chose to do next is wonderful…

Kris (along with her twin sister, Maren) created the charity Coppafeel. I’ve no doubt a lot of you will have heard of them – several of you have mentioned the charity to me since the start of my posts on inspiration! The aim of the charity:

coppafeel“We’re on a mission to stamp out late detection of breast cancer. We ensure that you know the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, know what your boobs look and feel like normally, check your boobs regularly throughout your lifetime and have the confidence to see a doctor if you notice anything that doesn’t feel right for you.”

Coppafeel remind us that as well as assisting on the diagnosis side of things, a big point is encouraging people to be proactive in the hope that we can catch the cancer earlier. Especially as over 2000 cases were diagnosed at stage 4 last year.

Kris is one brave young lady, selflessly working – and fighting – to help others in the same situation as herself, or even before. They are similar to Check One Two which I have blogged about previously, I think there could be a potential collaboration there. Double the amount of voices raising awareness!

FOLLOW Coppafeel: Watch a vid, visit the site or follow on FB or Twitter.

STAND UP TO CANCER

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“CANCER, YOUR TIME IS UP”, says Stand Up To Cancer – a collaboration between Cancer Research and Channel 4. Right now they have launched the beginning of a two month stint of fundraising all over the country, building up to a night of live TV on Friday 17th October.

People are able to sign up for a fundraising pack online and are encouraged to create an event (no matter how small or large) to help to raise money for research. I am brainstorming some ideas myself and will keep you posted in case you would like to get involved!

Another way that you can be part of the fight is by attending the ‘March on Cancer’ which will take place around 15 cities in the UK at 7:30pm on Saturday 11th october. This is your chance to march in a group, make a stand and educate others on this fantastic cause, with the hope that more money will be made.

FOLLOW Stand Up To Cancer: Visit the site or follow on FB or Twitter.

Yet again I am left feeling completely inspired and raring to go. So many ideas whirling around my head about ways to get involved with the charities above and so many more. Because, the truth is – the only chance we have at putting up a decent fight against this devil of a disease, is if we build up an army of as many enthusiastic fundraisers and messengers as possible. I’m signing up.

Speak to you next week.

Rach x

Be Inspired by vInspired

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

You know what? I don’t think I have used the word ‘inspired’ so much in my life. Now it seems to be a regular appearance in my vocabulary. And that’s pretty good, I reckon. Also, no matter what whingeing and moaning I am doing by the end of the week (about the most trivial of things – I was just doing it five minutes ago), these Friday posts remind me to shut up. They leave me feeling as if I should be doing more – that I should be more.

So, here is the next project on my list – vInspired….

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What is vInspired?

vInspired is the nation’s leading youth volunteering charity. They were formed when the Government created the Russell Commission in 2004 with the focus on developing a new national framework for youth action and engagement. The charity is dedicated to helping 16-25 year olds with volunteering opportunities in their local communities and relies on voluntary contributions to continue to support those involved.

vlogo“We believe that young people can change the world. Young people are our greatest assets – they will shape our future “, the independent British charity recognises. Through the volunteering opportunities and placements that are presented to the young people, there is a hope that in return for their time they are given valuable and transferable skills to prepare them for the world of work, including vInspired awards that can go on to a CV.

And is it working? I think the numbers below say it all:

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Funding

There are a vast range of volunteering opportunities: career-related, outdoors, events, festivals, online, international. But the most exciting area of vInspired, in my opinion, is that people are able to create their own social action ideas. If there is a cause in the community that someone is passionate about helping with, they can pitch their project with the chance to receive funding through the Cashpoint programme. Successful projects ideas will receive a £500 grant to get them started. Alternatively, there is the option of crowdfunding through the igniter scheme.

Young Leaders

Team V is a group of young leaders (77% of which are made up of existing volunteers), who are responsible for running three campaigns over the space of a year while learning leadership, project planning and project management skills along the way.

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Schools

Now calling all teachers! In the past year 192 schools have signed up to the vInspired Schools programme. I think you should join that list. Schools are provided with websites, support and materials to get students involved in helping their communities. To find out more about registering your school for the project click here.

Campaigns

rickedwardsswingthevote#Swingthevote is a campaign set up by the charity and broadcaster/writer, Rick Edwards, which is encouraging young people to vote in the May 2015 General Election and pushing politicians to consider what matters to the younger generation. The BBC Free Speech presenter is asking 18-25 year olds to upload an Instagram video of them explaining, ‘I would vote if….’ with issues they would like to see addressed. Of course, this is to raise awareness and increase the predicted figure of just 12% of that age group voting next year, but those videos will not just remain in the world of Instagram. Rick and vInspired are compiling the best of them to present to political parties later in the year in the hope that they will finally listen to Britain’s young voices and take the points raised into consideration for their manifestos.

I wish I’d known about vInspired before I slipped over the 25-year-old mark. Darn it! This is exactly the kind of thing that I love to hear about. I agree with their quote whole-heartedly – young people are our greatest assets and it is fantastic to hear that so there is a growing amount of opportunities for them to develop skills, help the community, meet new people and use a platform for their voices to be heard.

I look forward to following what this exciting charity are up to and I really hope that the #Swingthevote video shakes things up a bit later in the year.

Happy Friday to you all. Have a great one.

Rachael x

Dorset to London & Unfinished Business with NYC

Bringing you news once a week on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

Dorset to London

I have just returned from a brilliant weekend. Just so many lovely moments.10494905_10152530435820873_4437600669961468343_o

Amy (Paris crew) picked me up from Poole train station and we drove along listening to the local radio station, imagining that we were eighteen again. Laughter ensued as we questioned whether we have changed all that much since that young, innocent (?) age. We spent the afternoon in the garden, embracing the afternoon sun, sipping wine and picking from a mezze platter of Waitrose joy (trying to forget the fact that the Waitrose in our town centre has been built on the much-loved cricket pitch. Controversial). Beth (Paris crew) joined us with her gorgeous baby boy, Sebastian, followed by Stewart (also Paris crew!).

We were all back home for the weekend to see our school friend, Helen, and long-term love, James, tie the knot. Now, the best way to get to the wedding venue was on the sandbanks chain ferry but disaster struck last week when one of the chains broke. We were lucky – normal ferry service had resumed in time and we made it to the stunning cliff top setting of Harry Warren House in Studland ready for a beautiful day. And beautiful it was. The fizz was flowing, croquet and boules were played on the lawn, a scrumptious hog-roast was devoured, speeches were delivered with wit and warmth and by the end of the evening the dancing was getting pretty serious.

The rest of my weekend was spent catching up with the sisters and the father over dinners and lunches. Dad was getting geared up for the 60 Postcards Cycle Challenge which starts at Tower of London this Thursday. (If you haven’t seen the video for it, please check it out here!) I am still bursting with pride and I will be there as they set off to wish them luck and take some snaps. Just before I caught the train back, I nipped over to see Helen (my publicist from Simon and Schuster) in her perfect, pretty new abode in the Dorset countryside (as I joked that it would only be a matter of time before Country Living came knocking on her door).

As I sat on the train for my return to the city, I left the laptop in my bag, my phone to one side and I read non-stop from Dorset to London. Travelling seems like one of the few times that I am able to fully immerse myself in a book these days. Well, that and holidays, of course. At Poole station I had been looking out to Holes bay and as we drew in to Waterloo station I welcomed the sight of the London Eye out of the window. I felt happy. I felt lucky. I feel like I can call both places home.

Unfinished Business

Book readers often ask aboIMG_1398ut another place I love – Paris – as it was where my postcard project began. BUT, there is a very special city that brought equal amounts of serendipity and magic: New York City. Some people, when speaking to me about my project are not even aware that I did leave 60 postcards out there too. Because, I did. I really did! With wonderful results, too. And it feels like there are stories still untold and more to be made. Unfinished business it will be no more as I have booked a two and a half week trip for the end of September. It is going to be epic.

The Plan 

I need to do some serious planning for this trip. I want the whole two and a half weeks to be jam-packed with fun and adventure with a real focus on people. I am going to reach out to my postcard finders once more and try to visit as many as possible. I want to continue with Project Inspire, asking New Yorkers what inspires them and why. I want to throw myself into a million and one situations and to make the most of every opportunity out there. I want to be the, ‘Yes Man’ that Danny Boyle writes about.

Can you help with NYC contacts? 

IMG_1165I am working on a few new postcard challenges and will feature them on a blog over the next month as would really appreciate your assistance on deciding one to do out there!

Also, I only know a few people out in NYC and if you have anyone that you could put me in touch with or suggest that I get in touch with then please let me know. People that I am looking for in this project based in NYC are:

  • Inspirational people – those who are involved in individual or group projects, causes (with particular focus on turning a bad into a positive).
  • Authors/Bloggers/Writers
  • People running any art projects or festivals

If you have an ideas then please get in touch with me on 60postcards@gmail.com! Muchos gracias!

Right, back to planning for me!

Speak to you later in the week. Enjoy :).

Rachael x

#Feelingnuts for Check One Two

60 Postcards: Create. Share. Inspire. Bringing you news every Tuesday on the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

Afternoon all,

Hope you are enjoying the sunshine!

I feel honoured to have been invited as guest speaker at the year eleven and thirteen awards evenings for Thomas Hardye’s School (Dorset) earlier this week. As nerve-wracking as it was to stand up in front of so many, I felt proud to be able to share my story and to have the opportunity to wish the students the best of the luck for their bright futures ahead of them. During my speech, one thing that I made sure to mention (amongst postcards, blogging and book writing) was my observation about death still being a taboo topic.

Andrew Salter got icheckonetwon touch with me this week to ask if I would be interested in getting involved in a new campaign tackling another taboo. As I sat down to read all about the idea, I knew instantly that I wanted to be part of helping to spread the word and so this ‘Inspiration Friday’ (coined by Jennifer Young of Beauty Despite Cancer) post, is the perfect place to introduce 60 Postcards readers to it.

Andrew and his brother, Simon, founded Check One Two in 2012 – a project set up after the discovery that men are still dying from testicular cancer despite the fact that it is one of the most preventable forms. If it is caught early, it is 100% curable. And why is it still a problem? The Salter brothers explain, ‘being blokes we are all a bit too laid back to keep a check on our love grenades…’

You can see how that would happen, the laid back approach. I mean, talking about ‘testicles’, ‘balls’, ‘bollocks’ can be embarrassing. You might even be cringing now or giggling awkwardly as you read this. That is totally natural. But what Check One Two is providing is the information needed with the support of a growing number of A-List celebs and using a whole lot of humour to assist. No more cringing – now you can laugh out loud.

I have spoken about the power of social media for raising awareness of important causes before and these guys are taking it to the next level. Check One Two are using a socialthon (including tweets, vine videos, instagram pics, Facebook posts and YouTube uploads) to get the message spreading as far as possible and all with the hashtag, #feelingnuts. Pure genius.

feelingnuts

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As you can see from the pic above, some of our most loved comedians are getting on board. Check out this ‘Knacktorial’ YouTube video featuring a few below….

So how can we help? 

This campaign is all about the message. There is no fundraising involved, just a real drive to get people talking about it more openly and let the ripple effect do its work through, ‘funny, grabbing and pant dropping ways’. So get some jokes on the go then tweet and Facebook away (always with the hashtag #feelingnuts). Some of the vines being sent in are brilliant so be warned friends, when I next see you I may be recruiting you in a few films directed by moi!

Don’t be shy – grow a pair, check them, then spread the word. And yes, I know that most of you reading are women! But it is vitally important for us to understand, to be educated and to use our social media power to help this movement become a magnificent force, too. And for me personally, it has reminded me to highlight men’s issues more on my blog. We all know that cancer is the devil and if we have the opportunity to work together in helping to prevent it and to save lives then its a no brainer – I’m in.

(Please note, I actually almost checked myself after I was handed a Starbucks cup with, ‘Richard’ written on it. Again. Oh dear.)

Speak to you next week,

Richard Rachael xxx

 

 

 

A Collaboration: Beauty Despite Cancer & Brow Boothe

 60 Postcards: Create. Share. Inspire. Bringing you news once a week about the ongoing 60 Postcards journey (you can read a summary of the story here), and on Friday I share a story of an inspirational person, project or cause.

The weekend is here, people. Finally!

Today’s post is about a collaboration between two beauty brands and how they help cancer patients through bespoke products and treatments.

BEAUTY DESPITE CANCER (BDC)

Website  |  Facebook  | Twitter 

JenYoung

Jennifer Young’s qualifications in biology, nutrition and beauty are endless (you can read more here) and she wanted to put her vast knowledge and experience in to creating her own business. She recognised the fact that, ‘Unique skin needs unique products’ and developed her own range of customised skincare (under her own name), which provides products to fit every customer’s individual needs while using 100% natural ingredients.

When the University Hospital of North Staffordshire created a beauty and wig salon in the chemo ward of their Cancer Centre, they wanted to offer skin care to patients but could not find a suitable range out there. Aware of Jennifer’s successful and growing business, the nursing team at the hospital approached her to see if there was any way that she could help.

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Jennifer says:

“‘Women don’t stop being women when they are diagnosed with cancer’. These words have become my mantra over the past year. I had no idea that cancer treatment could impact skin and nail health as well as hair. I was surprised to be asked to develop a skincare range for cancer patients as I didn’t know that they had unique skin issues. Working with my local hospital to develop the products has opened my eyes to the sensitive, sore, itchy, flaking skin that be caused as a side-effect of some treatments. I was determined to help as ‘women don’t stop being women’…..but the world of beauty is often denied them as their skin is so sensitive.

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Our products, Defiant Beauty By Jennifer Young, are natural, organic and most of the products are fragrance-free. They are formulated to combat and soothe chemotherapy and radiation damaged skin. Our ingredients have been selected in accordance with the advice given to us by the NHS Team that we worked with. Defiant Beauty does not contain any oestrogenic substances or any essential oils that are thought to have the potential to interfere with treatment.

The determination to help hasn’t stopped with the development of products, we have a blog with a team of about 40 expert writers and a quarterly magazine “Recognise Yourself’ as well as an Appearance Advice Line which offers free advice to all.”

As Jennifer says, there is so much more than products available. There is an Experience section, which is written by people who have been diagnosed with cancer (or is the child of one diagnosed). This is an honest account of experiences such as their treatment, the effects and dealing with the feelings of others. The Life section gives cancer patients advice on work, travel insurance, medical insurance and many more. All around the site you can find posts written by people who have benefited from Beauty Despite Cancer. You will feel completely inspired after a read.

BROW BOOTHE

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How did I hear about Beauty Despite Cancer? The lovely Louise Boothe, that’s how. Lou is a qualified Cosmetic Make-up and Beauty Consultant. She specialises in brows and lashes and having learnt so much in those two areas through her own experiences, she was passionate about helping others achieve a look that is tailored to them. Brow Boothe the business was born. Lou is currently a mobile consultant in London and while delivering her treatments, she always gives personal advice to each client on shaping and products.

Lou is a great friend of mine and she was very excited to announce that she is now able to offer her treatments through BDC. Here she tells us how the collaboration came about and what it means to her:

“I first came across Jennifer and Beauty Despite Cancer when I was looking for a company to team up with to help anyone who had lost their brows through cancer treatment.

I’ve loved getting to know Jennifer and the team and the BDC ethos is fantastic. As Jennifer says – ‘Women don’t stop being women when they are diagnosed with cancer.’ If we can help someone regain their confidence and as a result feel stronger then that is an absolute privilege.”

I’m delighted that Lou and Jennifer are able to combine forces!

While writing this post I found myself thinking of my mum, of course. I still feel such a rage of anger and utter despair that she was not given a chance to fight – the sixteen days between her diagnosis and death are still as incomprehensible as when it first happened. But there is one thing I know for sure – if Mum had received treatment, I am sure she would appreciate Beauty Despite Cancer immensely.

It is amazing to hear that so many cancer patients have already been supported by the products and advice and I really hope that this may help some of the readers of this blog or anyone that you may know.

Everyone deserves to (and should) feel beautiful.

Love,

Rachael x