So the Journal – This is Me, is finally a tangible, printed product that people can now buy, either for themselves or for a loved one experiencing a cancer diagnosis. It’s been an 18-month journey and a real labour of love for all involved.

It began as an idea that was born at a day out on the beach in Lee-on-Solent. The Cosham Support Centre and the Cosham Rotary Club organised a day out on the beach in July 2017 for clients to go and have a relaxed day with a picnic provided. We had a wonderful day, full of laughs and chatting. We took photos of each other by the sea and whilst we were posing and having a giggle, I had the thought that we could put together some photos (similar to Calendar Girls) and use them to raise money for Wessex Cancer Trust. We started chatting about this idea and people really got enthusiastic about it. And so it began…

The idea evolved from just pictures to something that more resembled a journal, where people could not just see pictures of our courageous ladies, but also read their stories as well as finding tips on health and wellbeing; a journal that could inspire other women and give them hope during difficult times.

We managed to recruit a group of amazing ladies, all with different stories of their cancer experiences. We found an amazing photographer, Rose Alex Morris, who gave her time and skills for free to take beautiful pictures for us. Many (many!) planning meetings were had where we had to discuss design ideas and fundraising events to raise the printing costs.

I work for Southern Co-op (The Co-operative Funeralcare in North End) and we had already chosen Wessex Cancer Trust as our charity partner, so we donated £850 towards the printing costs. Then we planned and completed various events to raise the remainder……car boot sales, a charity car wash, a Ladies Night, a cake sale……..we were very busy! Many local businesses helped out by donating money, venues, gifts, etc. which we were thrilled with (Mike Warden Garden Services, Portsmouth Music Academy, The Blue Lagoon, just to name a few).

And 18 months later we have the final product, which we are so proud of and really hope that people find encouraging and inspiring. The people who volunteered to be a part of it, whether it was sharing their stories, taking pictures, helping at fundraisers, designing, printing, providing venues for events and photo shoots all did their bit because they fell in love with the idea behind it. They all shared our passion for helping other women and raising money for Wessex Cancer Trust, and we thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.