Amanda Hargreaves, Christie fundraiser
At aged nine, I suffered the most traumatic of losses. My mum, Wendy, at the young age of just 34 (two years younger than I am today) sadly lost her long and courageous battle with cancer. My mum was a true fighter. She suffered years of pain and treatments, one of which was the amputation of her leg, solely to live to see me grow up.
I miss my mum every single day but never more so than at special times. Nothing can prepare you for the sadness you feel when you go and try on a wedding dress and your mum isn’t there or when she isn’t there to share in the most important day of your life.
Nobody tells you how hard it will be when you get your dream job and you can’t pick up the phone to tell her or when you’re not feeling well and you just want your mum. Although nobody can ever prepare you for such loss, they can help! And that’s what The Christie did for me – they helped and they made things easier.
I am sorry if the start of my story is sad, brings a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat but unfortunately the fact is that cancer doesn’t always have a happy ending. However, rather than dwell on the sadness and the pain I have had because of cancer, I wanted to share some of the positives.
Without The Christie and its wonderful staff, my mum might have lost her life much sooner. They supported our family which is one of the most important things. I mean really how do you break that news to your family that you aren’t going to beat this disease!? Her cancer was never hidden from me and I was informed of every decision that was made, and even though I perhaps didn’t really understand what was happening, the hospital helped my family explain things to me. They helped mum find a wig when her hair fell out, recommended holistic therapists who would home visit her to help ease her severe pain, and were just there for her and my Dad when they needed someone outside our family unit and circle of friends.
I spent lots of time at The Christie with my Mum and as I grew older I wondered how I could give something back. When the idea of setting up the Manchester PA Network came about, my fellow co-founder and friend Mel and I decided that we should use the network to raise money for The Christie.
We decided to hold events that our guests could buy tickets for and the money raised would go to The Christie – a great idea but how would we set this network up and get people interested in joining? It wasn’t as easy as we thought. We launched in July 2011 with 50 PAs from various Manchester businesses. We had a raffle and raised a good amount for the charity, but it wasn’t enough, we had to do more!
We became corporate fundraisers and heard about the tree of hope, a beautiful bronze tree in the garden of the hospital, where you could have a leaf with the name of a loved one placed in return for a £15,000 donation. That was when we decided £15,000 would be our first target, and it didn’t take us as long as we thought to get our first leaf with my mum’s name on it. Since then we have raised enough to have a second, a third and a fourth leaf with the name of a loved one on it.
|Holly Moore and Amanda Hargreaves from Manchester PA Network|
This year was the fifth year of the Manchester PA Network. We now have over 600 members and to date we have raised more than £65,000. We recently set ourselves the challenge to raise £100,000 by the year 2020.
Through our fundraising we have helped raise awareness of the wonderful work The Christie does. We have shared patient experiences and heard from the clinicians and the fundraising team who all work so hard for the hospital. I am no longer ‘Amanda who lost her Mum to cancer’ I am now ‘Amanda Hargreaves, corporate fundraiser and co-founder of the Manchester PA Network’ who is incredibly proud each day not only of the amount of money I have helped to raise, but also the awareness I have helped to raise about this wonderful hospital and charity.
I hope that one day there will be a world without cancer but, until that day, I will keep going, so that other little girls don’t lose their precious mummies.
So you see a positive did come out of such a great loss, and whilst sometimes I visit the hospital and feel very sad, there are more times I go there and think ‘wow, look at what I have contributed to’. I think my mum would be incredibly proud of what we have achieved in her memory and we will carry on raising money and awareness to fight this disease.
If you have been inspired to support The Christie after reading Amanda’s story please visit www.christies.org/ididit