Vicky Stock, Membership Secretary of BSFG (Birmingham SF Group) passed away quietly on Wed 11th January 2017. For years, she had fought the battle against cancer, and ‘fought’ is the right word, because Vicky was a fighter. Despite bad days, illness and exhaustion, Vicky took time to support many important fundraisers for Breast Cancer research, gave me advice during a difficult time and my own scare, and volunteered at St Mary’s Hospice. At the same time she worked for the BSFG continuing her role and sharing news and creating events on Facebook and Twitter. Vicky was relentless, but so much more than that; funny, warm, generous, committed, and probably not known by many, a talented writer.
A couple of of years ago I released a book to fundraise for Breast Cancer Campaign, a charity Vicky and I both agreed on. Written in her own words, here is the foreword that Vicky wrote for HER DARK VOICE.
Picture courtesy of Birmingham Mail
Foreword: Vicky Stock
The human body is an amazing thing. It can do the most amazingly brilliant stuff which you never imagined it could achieve. Childbirth, for instance. Or the way our brains work. The way everything interconnects. Our DNA…But what happens if, again rather miraculously, a cell gets an idea in its head that it wants to be immortal: it starts reproducing, again and again and again. Starts to take over the cells and tissue next to it. First we know about it is a lump or change or pain…miraculous, in a somewhat darker way with a much darker outcome. For that immortality will eventually take over our mortal body and kill it…
…Cancer. The darkest time of my short life so far. Plunged at the tender age of 30 into a battle with breast cancer, involving several surgeries removing and reconstructing, chemo- and radio-therapy, 12 months of the wonder-drug Herceptin, anticipating several years of a hormone drug…and then 18 months after diagnosis, plunged into that world all over again when I was diagnosed with my second breast cancer.
Like a lot of other cancer patients I have felt the strong urge to give something back, to get something positive out of this horrendous time, and for me this meant volunteering and fundraising. I started this just after diagnosis and my initial surgeries; and once my treatment finished in 2012 bar the ongoing hormone drugs and reconstructive work, I continued my work with charity fundraising. I have also been trained in delivering breast awareness sessions and have started a support group for younger people going through cancer, linking up with a national charity with the same aims.
There is a lot of need for support and someone to talk to at all stages of the treatment journey but particularly the point at the end of treatment is when quite often people seek out others who have experienced what they have gone through. A willing, empathetic ear to listen, understand at that time when everyone assumes you are ok and back to ‘normal’ – whatever that is. The various charities out there offer this to our starving souls desperate to recover but not knowing quite how. People feel themselves drawn to different charities. Some offer a helpline with professionals/peer support from people who have experienced the same cancer; or ‘buddies’ who will phone or visit to offer practical/emotional support; or online forums where you can vent your frustrations with others in a safe, monitored, anonymous arena.
Other survivors find themselves drawn to charities focusing on the treatments, research, science to try and find that miraculous cure, or stop it happening in the first place. Cancer can often be beaten back, putting the patient ‘in remission’ or as near cured as possible, but over you will always hang the threat of metastases. The word no cancer patient ever wants to hear. This means the initially mapped out careplan hasn’t worked. The speedy referrals, the mastectomy, the months of awful treatment and side effects, even the wonder drugs – it has none of it actually worked. The cancer has spread. Suddenly it is all very different. Now it is a case of how long can they keep you alive. A lot of current research is trying to find a ‘cure’ for this currently incurable spread which once started, can never be permanently halted. At the moment. But who knows in the future what these amazing scientists will discover?
Please consider Vicky’s words, remember her, and help with the various cancer charities that are out there. Or visit a patient, or spread the word. Knowledge is power.
Vicky, you will be greatly missed.