CoppaTrek - Gemma's Inspirational Story

In September 2019, aged 36, I was diagnosed with secondary incurable breast cancer. CoppaFeel!! is on a mission to stamp out the late diagnosis of breast cancer in young people.

As someone that did check their chest but was repeatedly turned away for being too young, too soon after having babies, breasts too dense etc the charity is very close to my heart – we need to spread the word that no one is too young for breast cancer and we need to ensure everyone is comfortable checking their chests and empowered to push for answers when they know something isn’t “their normal”. It could save their life. 

Last September I took part in the CoppaTrek! with Gi Scottish Highlands trek.

I wanted to support CoppaFeel!, to encourage others to check their chests and be empowered to push for answers if something seemed off, to raise funds to help the charity to spread this message and raise awareness of breast cancer in young people, but I also wanted to show myself and others that a secondary diagnosis doesn’t mean the end. We can still live whilst we are alive. 

The trek was the first time I have felt truly alive since my diagnosis.

Putting one foot in front of the other with purpose was therapy and supporting others became a focus. Trekkers find a tribe for life through the group you share the most amazing life changing/life affirming experience with. It’s tough but the support and strength of the group carries you through. 

My advice for the trekkers in 2022 is not to stress too much. Enjoy the experience and be in the moment. Don’t worry about how fast or slow you go. Just put one foot in front of the other and before you know it you will have achieved so much more than you ever realised or expected. Listen to the guides when it comes to blisters – stop immediately and get strapped up. Don’t try and be brave. Have a motivational playlist and take some form of music. When it got tough on the Highlands trek we turned on a Bluetooth speaker and danced our way up the mountain with a giant inflatable boob in tow!

The work that CoppaFeel! does is so so important. We cannot assume that cancer only affects those later in life. Know your normal and if something seems off seek professional advice and push for answers until you’re happy all of your questions are answered. Educating young people to start checking their bodies from a young age will save lives. 

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