Menu Order the book  
Image by Sane Seven

find out more

Fighting to be heard

Fighting to raise awareness and offering financial support and friendship for those living with incurable secondary breast cancer

We can’t fight for our lives. We are incurable. We are fighting to be heard. Fighting for a voice for the 55,000 patients living with secondary breast cancer in the UK.

The Fighting to be Heard Foundation functions with 100% volunteers; there are no paid employees, and the majority are Secondary Breast Cancer patients. We will always be a Voluntarily led organisation.

In September 2021, 20 women joined together in solidarity to create an awareness campaign. Strangers from across the UK, united by their diagnosis with incurable secondary breast cancer.

Secondary breast cancer is often described as the ‘forgotten form’ of breast cancer, even though it is estimated in a recent audit that there are over 57,000 people living with metastatic (secondary) breast cancer in the UK.

At the heart of the campaign was a powerful, emotive image shot by world renowned photographers Sane Seven. It portrayed the story of the 20 women, hands bound, hanging their gloves in a fight that they physically cannot win yet there was a shared desire to use their voices collectively to ‘fight’ for a voice for the secondary breast cancer community.

The twenty founders of the Fighting to be Heard Foundation
The twenty founders of the Fighting to be Heard Foundation

With the support of a generous media donation from Clear Channel UK, the campaign was rolled out across the country raising much needed awareness of this largely unknown disease.

Brought together by fellow patient Lisa Fleming and advocate Kathryn Orr, the campaign was initially intended to raise much needed awareness for a UK based secondary breast cancer charity. However, the bond between the women involved in the campaign developed into real life friendships and now, united as one, the faces behind the campaign will be launching the Fighting to be Heard Foundation this spring.

The stark reality of the disease is highlighted by the tragic passing of five of the women since the original image was shot. The launch of the Foundation will honour the lives of Emily Roberts (30), Suzanne Williamson (41), Cathy Snape (56), Vicky Keating (32) and Sally Nyland (46).

With the rising costs as a result of the UK’s cost of living crisis, a recent study commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support reported that nearly a quarter (24%) of people with cancer have had to cut costs either by buying less food or making fewer meals, including 26% of those currently having treatment.

It is hoped that the new Foundation will not only continue the women’s quest to raise awareness, but also help in some way to ease the financial pressure felt by those living with secondary breast cancer in the UK as they continue to Fight to be Heard.

Nearly a quarter of people with cancer have had to cut costs either by buying less food or making fewer meals

Source: Macmillan Cancer Support

Are you a Secondary patient who wants to connect with our founders?

Fill in our enquiry form and join the fight.

Join Us

Keep in touch

Tell us your email address and we will keep you up to date with our fight.

Sign Up

Signs & Symptoms A lump in the breast is the most common symptom of breast cancer, but most breast lumps are not cancer.

They are usually lumps either filled with fluid (a cyst) or made up of fibrous and glandular tissue (fibroadenoma). But it is very important to get any of these symptoms or anything else that is unusual for you checked by your GP. The earlier you get a diagnosis and start treatment, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

‘Signs & Symptoms’ have been collated by patient experiences, not from a medical professional or source.

Signs & Symptoms of Secondary Breast Cancer

  • Headaches that aren't getting any better or feel sever
  • Altered vision or speech
  • A feeling of hoarseness or dry throat
  • Any lumps or swelling in & around your breast area including under your arms and around your collarbone
  • An uncomfortable feeling or swelling under your ribs or across your upper abdomen
  • Feeling tired more than usual
  • Unexpected weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Bone pain; particularly your back, ribs or hips which gets worse at night and doesn’t get better with pain relief
  • Weakness or numbness in your limbs and feeling unsteady

Signs of Breast Cancer during Pregnancy

Our founder Roisin Pelan is our subject lead for Breast Cancer during pregnancy as she unfortunately faced this whilst pregnant with her little Ivy.

Read her story below about the awareness leaflet she designed for the NHS, to empower women without scaring them.

Hello, I’m Roisin Pelan I live in sunny Lancashire with my husband, Michael and our two little dreamboats; Ivy- 8 and Bill – 4.

I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 2014 when I was 34 weeks pregnant with Ivy. I was 32 years old and as you can imagine, terrified!

I had absolutely no idea that some of the hormones we produce in pregnancy (Oestrogen and Progesterone) can encourage undetected breast cancer cells to grow.

Even when I googled my symptoms, I was reassured because it told me breast changes and lumps in pregnancy were normal.

When I visited my GP, they told me the same. Thankfully I persevered and got the referral and diagnosis all within a week of my second visit.

I was induced 4 weeks early and our daughter was born perfectly healthy. When she was 6 days old, I went for a mastectomy and 3 weeks later, began chemo.

Devastatingly in 2018, I recurred and I’m now living with incurable breast cancer with spread to supraclavicular nodes and high above my neck as well as mammary chain and behind my breast bone. I’m pleased to say 5 years on, I’m thriving!

I designed this leaflet and crowdfunded so that I could supply it physically and digitally to hospitals and pregnancy centres nationwide. I want to inform women that breast cancer during and after pregnancy is actually a thing.  I hope the information will empower women without scaring them and give them the awareness of what is normal and what isn’t and the confidence to go and get it checked out if they’re unsure.  Please reach out if you work with women and would like to supply this information which has all been checked and verified by medically trained professionals.

Download leaflet pdf here – Breast Cancer During & After Pregnancy
Contact Roisin for more information

Latest News & Events

Summer Grants

During the summer holidays, we were able to assist 29 families by providing them with a grant of £350 each. (Read More)

Helen and Fighting To Be Heard

Charity Launch – March 2023

Global womenswear brand, Forever Unique and owner Seema Malhotra, hosted a star-studded event at Menagerie Restaurant & Bar on March (Read More)