We are delighted to welcome Annie Broe from Engleharts Solicitors as the latest addition to Business Ambassador Team. Annie is a conveyancing assistant from the Hove based firm and also has secondary breast cancer.
Pre-cancer diagnosis number 1, Annie was always a very fit person enjoying a range of sports but after treatment, Annie took her fitness a step further and trained for the Brighton Marathon in 2015. Since then she has become an Ambassador for RunBrighton supporting and encouraging others on their fitness journeys.
Unfortunately earlier this year Annie received the news that the cancer had returned and was now in her ribs, pelvis, and spine. Determined not to let this slow her down we caught up with Annie to learn how she has kept her positive attitude and how she wants to now help others through the Sussex Cancer Fund.
Annie, you obviously like your sport but what is about running that helped you so much?
I should begin by saying that I describe myself as a ‘reluctant runner’ rather than a ‘runner’!
It dawned on me that in 2015 I would celebrate my 60th birthday and what better way than to set myself the challenge of running the Brighton Marathon? I would then ask family and friends to donate to charity rather than buy me gifts.
I had been diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2007, had undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the RSCH, and then in December 2008 I had reconstructive surgery at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, which was followed by 2 further reconstructive operations at the QVH in 2009 and 2010, for which I shall always be incredibly grateful.
I had always been very active and fit, and even throughout ‘Breast Cancer Part One’ I continued playing tennis and doing yoga; a 5cm lump in my right breast was not going to stop me.
But a marathon? Where would/should I start?
Google led me to RunBrighton, the local half marathon and marathon training group which is now owned and managed by Mike Bannister, and I signed up for the RunBrighton winter training 2014/2015 with a view to doing the Brighton Half in the February and then the full marathon in the April.
I found the training extremely ‘do-able’ as the long Sunday runs are based on ‘time on feet’ rather than distance covered, which means that whatever your pace, all runners start and finish at the same time so even the slowest person does not feel left behind. And that was usually me!
From the very first day, what struck me the most was the friendliness of the group of runners (approximately 200) and the people involved, especially the Ambassadors who would accompany each of the pace groups and give encouragement and advice along the way.
So even after the 2015 marathon, I continued with RunBrighton as it was an enjoyable way to incorporate valuable cardio training into my general fitness régime, and in the summer of 2017 Mike asked me to become an Ambassador, and I found accompanying the runners/fast walkers at the back of the group incredibly rewarding.
Sadly, my involvement had to cease earlier this year when I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer which is affecting my spine, pelvis, and ribs, but I remain in regular contact with the RunBrighton gang and they have been of great support to me.
How does your professional role and job help you?
Since diagnosis with secondary breast cancer in April 2019, I have been able to maintain a ‘Monday to Friday/9-5’ working week, with a few hours off, quite naturally, for blood tests, treatment and appointments. As with the primary cancer 12 years ago, I vowed from Day One that the only reason for me not to be in the office would be if I had a fever or was otherwise too unwell.
I have worked for 46+ years, so work is my ‘normal’. I come home each evening with a great sense of achievement, I chill out, get plenty of sleep, and then repeat the process the following day. The weekends are always very relaxed indeed, and this is when I recharge my batteries for the following week.
Had I not continued working since diagnosis, I truly believe that I would have some serious mental issues by now as my days would be very unfulfilled, though I appreciate the office is quite close to my home and getting there and back has been either by taxi or with the kindness of colleagues. Other cancer patients may not be that fortunate. There may be cancer in my bones, but there is nothing wrong with my brain and ability to sit at my desk and do what I have always done. And my work colleagues have been so very understanding and helpful.
Is there anything specifically that influenced your decision to support SCF? i.e. there are lots of great charities, why did you choose to become an Ambassador for us?
It is a charity which I have admired because it helps the local community and because I am ‘Sussex born and bred’, it appeals to me to support a Sussex-based charity.
When I was being treated in the chemo department first time around in 2007, I really did appreciate having brand new magazines to read in the waiting area and decent coffee to drink from the machine, both facilities having been funded by donations to SCF, though of course much larger donations are no doubt received as a result of bequests made in Wills.
What makes you believe you would be a great business ambassador?
I have worked at Engleharts Solicitors since January 2004, chiefly as a residential conveyancing assistant, and my role entails being involved with clients through the process of property sales and purchases, remortgages and lease extensions. There is, of course, the legal aspect to all of these matters (which is undertaken by the solicitor with conduct of the file), but also of importance is the personal assistance I can give to clients to reassure and guide them through what can often be a confusing, frustrating and nerve-wracking experience, and that is what I enjoy.
So to be of some assistance to people in my situation would be an absolute honour and pleasure. Because I have been through the breast cancer treatment process, and am now benefiting from treatment for secondary breast cancer, I can really speak from my heart about how it affects me.
If you would be interested in becoming a Business Ambassador you can find more information here
Or if you would like to take up running RunBrighton have some great training courses and they are donating 20% of their fees to the Sussex Cancer Fund for anyone wanting to run for us…..more info
Annie sadly passed away on 23rd January 2020. She was an inspiration to all and a fantastic ambassador for SCF. She will be very missed.