It’s not about the money…

Lora and I attempting to make a speech!

I’ve been thinking about how to write this latest post without it reading like a regional newspaper article about a local charity event because for me it was so much more than that.

The fashion show was the brainchild of a childhood friend. Lora and I had known each other since we were four and until the age of eighteen we were best friends. As often happens in adolescence we grew apart and then we eventually lost touch when I moved away. When she heard that I was first diagnosed with breast cancer Lora got back in touch through Facebook to wish me well, and then when I was told the cancer had spread Lora discovered the blog and asked if I could suggest a charity she could fundraise for. I proposed Coppafeel.

Without giving it much thought, I imagined that Lora might be planning a 10k run or something similar to raise some cash, so when she told me that she was going to organise a fashion show she surpassed all my expectations. It was such an ambitious project that, health permitting, I knew I had to attend.

I was to have chemo on the Monday and the event would be on the Thursday. The trip was entirely dependant on how my body would take the treatment, so when I was diagnosed with tonsillitis on the Wednesday morning it was touch and go. Fortunately, in the afternoon I didn’t feel too unwell, so I booked a last minute train and made the journey back up to the North East.

I was nervous about attending; my hair at this point had mostly come out at the back so I would have to wear a headscarf. I feared that people would see a sick cancer patient rather than me – a girl who, despite all these keratinous cancerous cells, is actually happy with her lot.

One of my best friends, Sarah, set me straight. “They’re all here to support you. Just remember that the fashion show is the main event, and I’ll be on scarf watch.”  Hers was the stern, no nonsense voice that I needed to hear.

As we walked in I couldn’t believe how professional it all looked; glamorous girls in matching pink dresses selling raffle tickets, beautiful lighting, pink cupcakes on sale, and the fashion show…well, I’ll let the pictures do the talking (which will be up very soon I promise!)

The amazing cupcakes Lora's good friend Sam made

As soon as I saw Lora I could tell she was nervous about pulling off the event. We hadn’t had a proper conversation for probably ten years and yet she put me at such ease, despite being anxious about the event. The young woman I now met was glamorous, bright and determined; a woman who didn’t have to do any of this but had chosen to do so.

The night was a massive success, raising around £4000 for Coppafeel, and of course the money was the ultimate goal of the event but that’s not what I will be taking away from that night.

What struck me were the old faces that showed up just to say hello and show their support. Schoolmates I’d not seen in twelve years, acquaintances who made the effort to come along just to give me a hug and say hello and old friends who came on their own to contribute.

An ex-boyfriend from my teens gave me a friendly hug and as I went to let go he held on for just that second longer, an unspoken way of saying he wished me well. He also won a raffle for a spa weekend, which he gave to my mum and I.

Then there was a bloke who introduced himself to tell me that his fiancée reads the blog. They often make the drive from Scotland down to Middlesbrough and been bickering in the car as couples are wont to do, and then his partner will read the blog aloud to him, they’ll put things in perspective and make up. When she joined us she explained that her mum had kept asking when they were going to set a date for their long-awaited wedding, and it was after reading the blog that they were inspired to seize the day. If I remember correctly I think they’ll be tying the knot in August next year!

Being a journalist I’ve met lots of different people with difficult stories over the course of my career. Some are heartbreaking. I remember the first ever report I went on for local TV was about an eleven year old boy who was dying of leukaemia yet who gave an hour of his week to help teach swimming at his local baths. I went off to report on that story and of course was touched by the tragedy, but even as I learned the nuances of his plight I was thinking professionally, ‘what shots do I need?’ ‘Which of his sound bites shall I use?’ ‘We need to get back to edit this in time for the programme.’ It sounds cold and dispassionate, but it’s the truth.

Now I’m the one who has the life threatening illness and I’m being enlightened as to what true kindness is and the depths of human empathy which we take for granted.

So yes, it was about the money and I know Coppafeel will use that cash to educate young women and to save lives, but for me the fashion show was about so much more. Oh and the clothes were rather good too…

Check out top ladies fashion amazing men’s tailoring the fantastic venue which also donated very generously

Two of the glamorous models on the catwalk


47 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chloe Greene
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:15:18

    Oh this resonated with me Ellie. I worked in television as a producer for fifteen years and I worried that I was starting to see people as a “story” and not as people.

    Glad the event was such a success. Am sure you looked lovely, you have a beautiful face and a beautiful heart.


  2. Helen Foudls
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:22:34

    Sounds like your friend made an amazing effort. The kindness of others is always a blessing and I’m really pleased that so many faces (past and present) made the effort for you. Hope the treatment continues to go well and you get rid of the nasty tonsil rash in the meantime! x


  3. julie french
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:31:18

    well done ellie ..carnt wait to see the pics !!!!


  4. Alan Charnock
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:31:18

    Some people are lovely and i’m glad you raised so much money, cant wait to see the pictures.


  5. Mirjam
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:34:07

    I’m glad the event was such a success and that all that money was raised. Had a look at the women’s clothes and they are gorgeous! I agree with Helen, so pleased that many old friends took the time and effort to come along just for you. Hope you’re feeling well soon x


  6. Linda Ann McCrea
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:50:43

    A beautiful & moving gesture by Lora.
    Also,I`m so happy your ex -boyfriend demonstrated such MEANING in his affectionate hug . Often,I believe It is so difficult to demonstrate genuineness in an non- patronising manner . I say that, as an ex -nurse who really does have empathy but maybe I,too, could come across as patronising (at times ), or showing sympathy which is definitely not what patients want ..
    I truly believe you are touching many lives Ellie, just as Guiliana Rancic is with her well publicized breast cancer journey (TV presenter of E entertainment and other Holywood TV stuff !). She is having a radical DOUBLE mastectomy this monday in US so I`m sure we shall continue to follow her story but yours Ellie is our priority.
    I am hoping and fervently praying for total eradication of this secondary cancer from your beautiful body. Also praying that you &Tom can live out a beautiful, meaningful future of wedded bliss until old age. With God all things are possible.
    Yours with affection
    Linda :Belfast


  7. Helen stokes
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 15:59:24

    Ellie, i’m sure I speak for everyone when I say it was our pleasure to be involved and contribute to what was a wonderful, glamorous but very poignant evening. I was one of the models (persuaded by the lovely Miss Webb) and although extremely nervous as had never done it before, enjoyed being part of such a successful night knowing that it was for such a worthwhile cause! Not only did it raise a huge amount of money, it hopefully raised awareness of breast cancer too. Having you there, listening to you speak made the night even more special! There are a lot of people, including myself who have such admiration for you and wish you lots of love and support for your difficult journey ahead. Helen xxxx


  8. ChloeGreene21
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 18:09:33

    And meant to say your friend Lora sounds a great woman too.


  9. Sophie Glasgow
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 18:15:13

    Hi Ellie,
    As a ‘raffle ticket seller’ and Lora’s friend, I read your blog today and felt even more proud of Lora and her amazing event organising skills!
    The night was a huge success and I’m pleased you were able to attend to see just how much we all wish you well, especially Lora, who has introduced us all to this blog. I don’t want this to sound ‘corny’ but it really is true that your blog is inspirational and has touched all of us in different ways here in this little corner of the North-East 🙂

    Lots of love Sophie x x
    (the girl who sold the raffle tickets and won all the prizes…. I promise it wasn’t fixed!)


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 09:35:53

      Thanks for giving your time up for the event Sophie. I really can’t put into words how impressed I was by it all – just hope I can put some pics up today! xxx


  10. Rae
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 19:33:06

    What a cool idea for a fundraiser, I’m glad you were able to attend. Enjoy your spa day!


  11. lorly
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 21:18:52

    It is official, I am also addicted to the blog 🙂
    Sounds like a really great night and again your bravery is astounding because feeling rough, you push it aside and make the train journey anyway, you could teach a few people exactly what it means to live life and be in it, instead of always looking ahead to something ahead which isn’t even there yet,
    I showed my boyfriend your blog aswell and he was really touched by it, I hope you are putting this altogether as a book, because it will touch so many people, and well done to your friend, it is clearly testament to how people remember you years later that she wanted to do something to help,
    keep writing, keep fighting and keep remembering how inspiring you are to all these people you have never met xx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 09:34:34

      Thanks Lorly – spread the word as far and wide as you can! xxx


      • lorly
        Dec 09, 2011 @ 21:58:42

        I am, have ordered my best mate to read it tonight and will make sure all my sisters and mates read it and have put it on Twitter, although I am nowhere near as popular as the Frymeister, but I’ll do my bit :-), because everyone should be reading this blog!!!!! xxxx

  12. Anouska
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 01:45:29

    Hope the tonsillitis is on it’s way out now Ellie. I have breast cancer (I’m having chemo number 4 of 8 next week) After my first round I managed to pick up tonsillitis – I had never had it before so I sympathise totally. Keep kicking ass girl!! Big hugs and lots of love Anouska (Bromley, Kent) xx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 09:33:38

      Nearly half way there! I’d never had it before and after my first lot of chemo I got it and now it looks like I’m susceptible to it now! Just hoping the bloods are ok on Monday for the next round of chemo! Good luck with number 4! xxx


  13. ClaireK
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 09:26:27

    Hi Ellie,

    Ive been following yr blog ever since I read the article in the daily mail and have always wanted to write and leave you a message but have been wary of spouting a load of corny lines and not sounding at all sincere..!

    Reading yr blog makes me feel like I know you, and I think that’s testiment to yr brilliant writing. I check back every few days waiting for the next instalment to hear how yr doing and always have to pause throughout because what you write is so touching. It makes me remember to remember the big stuff and to not sweat the small stuff at the same time!

    Keep up the fight – you’ve made such amazing progress so far it and I’m sure 2012 will definately be yr year!!! 🙂

    Lots of love and hugs from the freezing cold depths of Lancashire.


    I hope you and Tom have a lovely Xmas


  14. Claire Leng
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 11:19:14

    The fundraiser sounded like a great success and lots of fun as well, everyone involved should be really proud of themselves. I read your blog regularly and have dropped you a line before but I just needed to let you know what an inspiration you are to me and many others, you inspire me more than words can say! As I have said before I am 37 and have primary liver cancer which I have known about for about 4 months now and I am still struggling with a lot of negativity (unwanted), when I read the part in your blog ‘is actually happy with her lot’ I was just amazed, how do you think you have managed to get to this point? You truly are amazing!
    Lots of love to you Ellie and I look forward to reading the next installment of your incredible journey, Claire xx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 09, 2011 @ 13:00:39

      I still have down days so please don’t think I’m positive all of the time. But I think meditation has helped me massively – there is a CD by Carl Stonier that has been really helpful for me. I’m not sure you’re into the alternative stuff but it’s certainly put my mind in a much calmer, better place. None of us know how long we have – the problem with cancer is it makes you confront the possibility of death. I try to live each day as it comes. Today, despite the tonsilits, I know I can get out of the house and lead a pretty normal day so that makes me happy. The first time round with the primary diagnosis I was so naive to how to handle it all. This time round I’m eating as well as I can, meditating, doing acupuncture and EFT. And it might not be for everyone but for me it’s working so I make no excuses for using what is making my ‘journey’ as happy as it can be.
      Please do contact me if you need anymore help or advice, Ellie x


      • Claire Leng
        Dec 10, 2011 @ 13:07:58

        Hi Ellie
        Thanks so much for the advice it really is greatly received. I have decided to embrace any alternative therapy that may help me as well as whatever my Prof throws at me. I went to an EFT therapist a couple of weeks ago which I feel has helped but I definately want to take up meditation so I will see if I can get my hands on the CD that you mentioned, I will do anything to get my mind into a much calmer peaceful place, thanks once again and have a happy weekend, Claire xx

      • Ellie Jeffery
        Dec 11, 2011 @ 11:29:08

        If you have trouble tracking it down Claire give me a shout and I’ll try to copy the one I’ve got and send it to you x

  15. Laura S
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 18:18:17

    Sounds like a great event. Congratulations to all involved.
    Hope the tonsilitis clears up, take care


  16. Mary
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 01:07:54

    It sounds like the event went fantastically and I bet you looked a million dollars as well. What an amazing amount to raise. Enjoy the spa day and I hope your tonsils soon start to behave!! Sending hugs and smiles as always xx


  17. Lora
    Dec 10, 2011 @ 07:24:00

    I felt compelled to write a little message myself this blog 🙂 as I read it for the forth time and shed a tear for the forth time also!!!! I always think of you Ellie every morning when I wake up and think ‘ooooo I can’t be bothered to get up for work today’ you really do inspire me, every single day…..Seeing how much you enjoyed the evening just made it all so worthwhile even if we only raised a tenner!!! I look forward to a cuppa tea and catch up during the festive period… Not often you get chance to do That with your hero is it? 🙂 much love xxxxxxxx


  18. Sally Morgan
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 00:02:56

    Hi Ellie, I’m Sally and I own KIWI Boutique. Thanks to Lora’s hard work this event turned out to be the best I have been involved in. It was great to see so many people engaged in a fundraiser that was uplifting, enjoyable and very well put together. To see my garments on the catwalk is always a real pleasure and the models on the evening certainly did them justice. However one thing I would like to say is that I personally think you were the very best model of them all! A true role model. Sophie is right, you are such an inspiration and I am very proud to be have been involved in the event in conjunction with yourself, Coppafeel and Lora.
    I wish you all the best for your treatment. Sally xx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 12, 2011 @ 09:47:45

      Thank you Sally! The clothes were stunning and the event was so professional. I loved the pink dresses the raffle girls wore. It made me feel honoured and proud how everyone came together to make the event such a success. Thank you for your VITAL contribution, Ellie xxx p.s I’ll prob see you in the shop over Christmas checking out all your fab clothes! xx


  19. Frances Russon
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 04:32:34

    Ellie, Your posts are wonderful and I really enjoy them. Last year, at 66, I was diagnosed with early breast cancer. After 6 chemo and 33 radiation I am going ok but it breaks my heart to see such young people getting this dread disease. I had not done yoga before and was part of a wonderful group of women all with breast cancer without whose support I could never have been as cheerful as you seem to be. love from Frances. Hobart, Tasmania


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 12, 2011 @ 19:33:10

      Thank you Frances. There are still down days but for the most part I’m feeling very well so that helps in keeping my spirits up. Wishing you a continued full recovery. Nice to have a follower in Tasmania! Ellie x


  20. Lilian
    Dec 12, 2011 @ 21:10:18

    Dear Eleanor, maybe I am a bit late, but just now I’ve read you story on the MailOnline and I felt the need to write you. I am 26, I am from Brazil and my dad died from cancer last year.
    He had a lung cancer that, when we found out, was already really big. In his case, he tried every treatment and it didn’t work. From the diagsone to the death we had 8 months.
    I wanted to say 2 things to you: try to make the most of your sickness. Don’t ever think this is a punishment. I am not saying this desease is a good thing, but it is a great oportunity. If you think of life as something bigger than the body, you can see that this can make you someone better, can make you learn, can make you live and experience things you would never have done otherwise. My dad said that he rather be the person he was with cancer than the one he was before. The cancer changed his life, made him a better man, made posible for us to have incredible moments together.
    Also, you can live, in the time you have, more than people live in years. Time is relative, is not about how many days or hours, is about how you live it. I had 8 months with my dad which felt like years, and we ended up living more in this 8 months than what we lived in maybe 10 years together! Enjoy, never loose hope, having hope make the time you have better.
    The second thing I want to say is about your husband or fiancé: don’t think this is something you’ve put in his life, this is also part of his life, like my dad’s disease was part of mine. It was the fight I needed to fight. If you live this time well, I believe it is posible to be OK after the person leaves. Of course I miss my father, of course I wish he was here, but after almost two years I can say that me, my sister and my mom are OK, our life will go on and he will always be with us, in our heart, in our memories. And remebering him makes us so happy, that for a moment, he is here again.
    Best of luck to you!


  21. Mrs Richards
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 12:12:25

    Erm I might be wrong, but I just went back to the beginning of your blog and I do believe you have beaten the original consultant’s diagnosis? She said 3-6 months and well you only have to look at the side of your blog to see that you’ve been blogging longer than 3 months and you said you had to give up work again on the 27th May, which makes it longer than six. I know its not a surprise, we knew you would, you knew you would – but it’s nice to have it in writing. So I’ll high five to that and say ‘fuck yeah’ and ‘fuck you cancer’, I know that’s a lot of expletives and even at 29 I’m scared of my parents catching me swearing, but there is nothing like pretending you are a character from ‘Team America’ to feel stronger about everything! So hears to the next 720 months, I think you should drink something bubbly at every six month juncture, because you can and because it’s fun. Love and hugs xxx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 13, 2011 @ 15:32:34

      You’re right! Thank you for the reminder. It’s funny I was talking to Professor Hope yesterday and he told me when my first chemo in the new year would be and he said it was on the 9th and I said that’s the day after my birthday. And he said, “So it’ll be you’re 30th the year after, any big plans?”
      What a difference from my old consultants attitudes of months not years! I have full faith I will make it to my 30th and beyond. I loved Team America by the way!


  22. Mrs Richards
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 12:15:16

    *here’s – sorry 🙂


  23. ladyleftfieldlover
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 13:49:49

    Dear Ellie
    I expect you are both making plans for Christmas now – and I bet it will be brilliant,
    with love


  24. kerry
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 21:07:01

    Ellie, You look so beautiful in your evening dress. How wonderful that you are surrounded by such loving and supportive friends, and what a great honour to have been part of this huge effort. Your friend has come back into your life and found you once again after many years. The human heart is a big place.xxxx


  25. Cate
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 23:17:05

    Hi ellie,

    I only discovered your blog a few weeks ago. Wow! You’re some lady! Your spirit shouts across this blog. It’s good to hear the meditation, ‘etc’ are doing their stuff. Keep pootling. May the low days be short, and the good days see you well and fighting fit!

    Sending love across the blogosphere!


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 14, 2011 @ 00:08:30

      Thank you Cate – had chemo on Monday and so far so good. Fell incredibly lucky to be coping so well with the side effects. Just pray it’s doing it’s job and zapping the cancer to oblivion! Thanks for reading! x


  26. Mary Burridge
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 06:46:04

    More prayers coming your way that you can continue to cope well with the side effects and that the chemo will do its job and zap the big C into oblivion!. It is such a pleasure to read your blogs and to feel your positive attitude through the words. You are truly an inspiration. May God bless you and Tom richly and have a wonderful Christmas.
    Mary in Canada


  27. laura
    Dec 14, 2011 @ 09:48:07

    i had a dream about you last night, where you came to Shropshire with matt, my boys were alot older than they are now, and you were all better.

    We were having a garden party at my Aunt sharon’s and you looked stunning and your hair was really long, everyone said how amazing you looked.

    I hope oneday my dream comes true as I’d love to see you all better, and have the honour of meeting you. Some of my dreams in the past have come true, lets hope this one does .

    All my love & Merry christmas

    Laura xxx


  28. mimi
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 06:00:03

    Hi Ellie,

    What an awesome event!
    so glad you’re doing so well. You look so pretty! I love your style 🙂
    I stumbled upon these the other day whilst doing Xmas shopping and thought of you. I want one of each, they are soooo funky! ( I must say I have a soft spot for the ones with pink streaks…!!!) Awesome party wear!

    How’s the diet going?
    Sending good vibes from Australia



    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 09:35:46

      Hi Mimi,
      A new post will hopefully be going up today so I can fill you in on all the details! The diet is good – I think I just need to get a bit more inventive now! Thanks for continuing to read,
      Ellie xx


  29. mimi
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 15:25:02

    the best sugar alternatives I have found are brown rice syrup ( sounds weird but is actually delish, like a mellow toasted honey taste) and Agave nectar! I use these in both sweet and savory dishes, works amazing!
    Good luck with inventing some new recipes!



  30. Anouska
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 08:34:18

    How are you doing chick? 
    I’m halfway through chemo for breast cancer. I had no.4 yesterday. Am feeling rough and haven’t slept – I really suffer with nausea despite being pumped full of anti sickness drugs. BUT the good news is, after seeing my oncologist on Wednesday, he examined me and said my lump is shrinking  I could feel myself it had got smaller and is changing but it’s always great to hear it officially. 
    In the beginning I was told I would have 8 chemo sessions, a mastectomy, radiotherapy and herceptin for 12 months. Now, after so much shrinkage, I’m wondering if I can go without the mastectomy in favour of a lumpectomy. My consultant says no way, which is fair enough, he is the expert, but I can’t get the option of a second opinion out of my head!! I wondered if you would be so kind as to email me Dr Hopes details as your blog has made me trust him impeccably. If he says I need a mastectomy, I’ll put my doubt to bed.
    I feel bad asking you for info when you are going through enough – I know only too well how crap the bad days are but I really don’t know where else to start. My GP is not great and the hospital I’m under worship the ground the consultant and surgeon walk upon!!
    Really hope you’re well this round (and the tonsils behave for Christmas. Wishing you a great one by the way) You’re really never far from my thoughts. People keep saying I’m brave and inspirational and stuff but I’m not fighting half the battle you are!! You my love, are a ninja!! Keep up the good work. Anouska xx


    • Ellie Jeffery
      Dec 17, 2011 @ 20:11:26

      Hi Anoushka,
      I’m sorry you’re going through this. I will ask Doctor Hope on Monday if it’s ok for me to reveal who he is. In the meantime, if you’re based in London have you thought about trying the Marsden for a second opinion? To get a second opinion I told my current consultant I wanted one – you can’t be shy about it I’m afraid – and neither should you; it’s your right. I’ll let you know what Prof Hope says, best wishes, Ellie x


      • Anouska
        Dec 17, 2011 @ 21:13:12

        Thank you Ellie. I am based in London (Bromley) so The Marsden is good for me to get to if Prof Hope would rather not let me have his details. Please reasure him I would not reveal who he is either! I just feel at 35, I’m not ready to give up my boob without another opinion. I’ve been a foster carer for years and am trained in confidentiality!! I’m not at all shy with my consultant – I’m sure he suspects I’m going to seek a second opinion ready! I still have 4 more chemo sessions so wouldn’t be looking to speak to someone until March, once chemo is over.
        It sure is a minefield!!
        Thanks again for getting back to me Ellie. Really appreciate it. Lots of love xx

  31. Betty
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 22:38:57

    What a brave lady you are,I have so enjoyed reading the whole saga of this dreadful condition that you have had to endure.It must be terrible at your age and with all your life in front of you,and should be so much fun.I am in my later years now having had a wonderful life of health and happiness,I sincerely hope that you will beat this cancer, and have a wonderful life.Keep up the fight.Will pray for you.Betty xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: