We are proud to announce that over the next year we will be supporting Secondary 1st on their mission to help fund vital research into the prevention, diagnosis and causes of secondary (metastatic) breast cancer and the development of more effective treatments.

Our goal is to help raise awareness of secondary breast cancer and to raise as much funds as we can on behalf of Secondary 1st, so they can continue their research and hopefully find potential cures for the disease which is currently incurable.

What is secondary breast cancer?

Secondary breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body via the body cavities, blood stream or lymph system.

If the cells stay in a new part of the body, such as the liver, lung, bones or brain they can form a new tumour.

Finding a cure means a diagnosis is no longer the end. Approximately 5 in every 100 people with breast cancer already have a secondary tumour when their first cancer is diagnosed.

Doctors and researchers estimate that 35 out of 100 people with primary breast cancer will develop secondary breast cancer within the first decade of the initial diagnosis.

Further research, better awareness and treatment are critical because secondary breast cancer kills 1 woman every 45 minutes in Britain alone.

Who are Secondary 1st? The story…

Rosie Choueka was a 37 year-old wife, mother of two young children and partner in a city law firm when she discovered a lump in her breast. She went through surgery and chemotherapy but a few days after finishing treatment she found a second, new lump. Tests showed that the cancer had spread to her liver. She went through a second even harsher course of chemotherapy but had to take a break as the treatment had badly affected her blood and immune system. She was investigating the next stage in treatment when she contracted an infection and died just under 1 year after her initial diagnosis.

Rosie began a blog entitled ‘Fighting Genghis’ to document her journey through cancer and her husband has since take over to post updates, you can read the full blog here.

Like many others in a similar position Rosie made full use of the internet to find

Like many others in a similar position, Rosie made full use of the internet to find out about her illness and possible treatments. She found that treatments for primary breast cancer could be very successful but that little attention was paid to the disease when it had metastasised. Only a very small percentage of the large sums raised for breast cancer was spent on research into secondary breast cancer and little publicity was given to the disease, yet it is responsible for the deaths of nearly 1,000 women each month in the UK.

Shortly before her death in June 2015, Rosie requested that a charity be set up in her memory focusing on research into secondary breast cancer and helping to prolong life. Rosie’s family and friends got together with professionals who gave their time and expertise free of charge to work on branding, design, legal requirements and a website.

Secondary 1st was launched in June 2016 and is run entirely by volunteers and has been supported by fundraisers all over the UK, most of whom have a close connection with the disease.

94% of the funds raised is available for research grants and has enabled Secondary 1st to help fund a research team led by Dr Claire Wells at King’s College London. Her team is investigating the ways in which breast cancer cells can dissociate from the primary tumour, invading the surrounding tissue and then metastasise to other vital organs, with particular reference to two molecules which work together with others in a group to make cancer cells move easily and become more invasive.

Dr Well’s work studying how breast cancer cells move and spread with relation to these molecules also aims to give a better understanding of which patients are more likely to be at risk of their cancer spreading. The team can then start to work on the development of new treatments to prevent the spread of cancer, and ultimately save lives.

Why have we chosen to support Secondary 1st?

Approximately 11,500 people in the UK lose their lives to secondary breast cancer each year, so more funding for research to better understand and then treat this disease is essential.

For JH Mechanical Services, the mission of Secondary 1st is one that we hold very close to our hearts.

Liam McDermott our Senior Contracts Manager, tragically lost his wife Carol to secondary breast cancer just last year.

Liam has chosen to share Carol’s story to help us raise awareness and funds in the hope it will prevent other families in the future from enduring the heartbreak that he and his family have suffered.

“Carole, 39 at the time, had been feeling unwell from around Christmas 2015, she was fatigued and just generally under the weather. Carol put this down to having to run around after 5 young men (obviously including me) who needed a lot of care and attention.

Carol found a lump in her breast around February/March of 2016 and following a visit to the doctors, was referred to the hospital for further tests and checks. We then, like many men and women before and after, had what seemed like a very long wait for the results from the tests.

Carol and I attended the hospital later in March and were given the terrible news that she had breast cancer and before treatment began, she would need to have additional tests as some further irregularities had been found.

We attended an appointment on April 15th 2016 where Carol was given the devastating news that the cancer was already secondary and had spread to her liver, lymph nodes and skin around the chest and was incurable.

Carole began a course of aggressive chemotherapy almost immediately and during this time endured more tests and the overwhelming news that the cancer was extremely aggressive and it was said she may not see Christmas 2016.

Carol’s family are from Hawes, deep in the North Yorkshire Dales and “they make ’em strong in them parts” and she was determined not to leave her four young boys for as long as possible.

She fought the cancer with everything she had, including non-stop research on the internet into her condition and recommendations on supplementary diets, exercise, medicines, meditations. She would always walk George (our youngest, 8 at the time) to school.

Christmas 2016 came and went and Carol kept fighting with the help of the NHS, who were remarkable, and further courses of chemotherapy in all its forms continued until August 2018.

The cancer was now so aggressive it was creating fluid in her lungs. Carol, still the fighter that she was, refused to be hospitalised and insisted on one last holiday with her beloved boys before being admitted to hospital.

Carol came home early October 2018 and passed away in her own bed with her boys sat by her side on Sunday 14th October 2018, aged 42.

She will be missed every second of every day.”

Carol in her favourite pass time, spending time with her boys

Liam and his family have raised funds previously for Secondary 1st, alongside some of Carol’s friends who shaved their heads to raise money after her passing.

We are coming together as business to show our support for Liam and others who have been affected by this disease.

We have lots planned throughout the year; including cake stalls, raffles and bonus balls as well as hosting a black tie dinner event where we hope to bring businesses from across the North East together for an evening of fundraising for Secondary 1st.

All updates and event information will posted to our website as well as across our social media, so keep your eyes peeled for information on how you can get involved.

We also have a Virgin MoneyGiving page to house all of our updates as we fund raise throughout the year, all donations big or small are welcome here any time.

Together we can beat the odds.

It’s time to put secondary first.

For more information on secondary breast cancer and Secondary 1st, head to their website here.

Registered Charity No. 1165614.