Volunteering as a Boobette has enabled NHS worker Hannah Cosham to turn her experience of breast cancer into something positive.
Following her diagnosis in 2015 at the age of 30, Hannah began volunteering with breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! and joined The Boobettes, who inspire other young people dealing with the disease.
When she was at her worst, Hannah was so frail, she could not climb stairs and had to walk with a stick.
Just months later, she has hiked through the Transylvanian Carpathians, through all weathers, up to 12 hours each day, and scaled a mountain twice the height of Snowdon.
Hannah, who works at Worthing Hospital as a radiology appointments officer, said: “We’re on a mission to educate the nation on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and empower people to know their body and get anything weird checked out.
“Since my own breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 30, volunteering as a Boobette for CoppaFeel! has become a huge part of my emotional recovery. It’s allowed me to turn my own experience into something really positive.”
Hannah was in a team of 60 trekkers, who were joined by Tom Fletcher from McFly and model Lisa Snowdon for the annual Fabulous Challenge Trek Transylvania, a daunting 46-mile walk across Romania.
She said: “Just last February, I was so frail from treatment for breast cancer that I couldn’t climb stairs and was walking with a stick. However, from July 22-27, I took part in the annual charity challenge trek for CoppaFeel!, raising funds to continue spreading CoppaFeel’s life-saving message of regularly checking your boobs. We’ve currently raised over £158,000, which is outstanding.”
Hannah loves hiking and first climbed Snowdon at the age of five, encouraged by her dad, who was a Scout leader. She has climbed the mountain four times in total, most recently for her 30th birthday, just months before her cancer diagnosis.
She said her treatment turned her into ‘an old woman’ overnight, with incredible joint pain.
She said: “That was a really difficult part of my life. I felt so far removed from Hannah as I know her. It was heartbreaking.”
Her biggest fear was not being able to get to the top of a mountain again and for her, that was terrifying. So, when she was offered the opportunity to join the trek team, she was mentally ‘up for it’ but was not sure her body was able to cope.
She had made the decision to stop taking Tamoxifen because of its effect on her joints and holidaying with her husband Michael in New Zealand, where they did lots of walking, gave her the confidence to apply.
“I just got swept up in this adventure,” she said.
Hannah said it was an incredible experience, which challenged them emotionally and physically, but they returned with a bond of friendship, forged in the mountains.
To help raise funds for the trek, Hannah auctioned off artwork donated by artists Lee Webb and Melanie Thorpe, held a cake sale in Worthing Hospital and had her hair shaved off.
It’s not too late to donate. Visit www.everydayhero.com/uk