“It would have been a great comfort to me if my Mum had had a safe place like Breast Cancer Haven to escape to.”

Imagine a childhood living in fear of a parent’s breast cancer diagnosis – scary, confusing and upsetting. For Ben, however, this scenario was a stark reality during his younger years when his mother, Susan, was diagnosed with cancer. Coming to terms with Susan’s experience was a lengthy ordeal and required him to follow by her example and face the disease head-on.

Since he couldn’t help his mother fight her battle, Ben wanted to do what he could to be there for her.

As one of four siblings, Ben wanted to support his Mum as much as he could. ‘It was a hurtful thing to experience as a young boy. Before I knew it, my mother was having a double mastectomy and enduring all the pain and unpleasantness of it all. There was also a knock on effect with my older sisters, who began to have regular checks for breast cancer themselves. At once, our entire lives seemed up in the air but at that age, there was very little I could do to help. My Mum had cancer and I felt helpless, I couldn’t support her’.

Despite her successive and recurring diagnosis’ of breast and also bowel cancer over 15 years, Susan pushed through and fought to continue being a strong figure in the face of her illness. Testament to her resilience was her willingness to combat cancer head on: Susan went out into the community, speaking about her experiences to raise awareness. She also organised fundraising events such as fashion shows alongside various charities to raise money for the cause.

Ben continued his mother’s work to support women affected by breast cancer

As he grew up, Ben was able to provide support for his Mum in ways he hadn’t been able to before, supporting her in her awareness and fundraising activities.

However, in 2011 Susan passed away. From what was understandably a traumatic event and an indescribable loss for Ben, he eventually found strength. Following his Mum’s example, he endeavoured more than ever to live his life in the determined way Susan lived hers. Facing cancer head-on, Ben spent his free time volunteering and fundraising for various cancer charities, finding motivation in ‘giving people a bit of hope and purpose’.

In 2016, Ben decided that helping charities in his free time just wasn’t enough and left his job to work as a dedicated full-time fundraiser at Breast Cancer Haven. ‘Contributing towards providing care for the women that need it is something that is so important to me’, says Ben. ‘It has helped me come to terms with my Mother’s experience of cancer. I don’t want the people that use our services or their families to go through what I went through as a son – it would have been a great comfort to me if my Mum had had a safe place like Breast Cancer Haven to escape to’.

Channelling his life-long experiences of cancer into his work at Breast Cancer Haven, Ben created a positive outcome from something that caused his Mum, his family and himself so much confusion and pain. Through the comfort of the Breast Cancer Haven visitors he fundraises for, Ben has also found comfort for himself.

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