Andy is the husband of Jen Russell, who sadly died from bowel cancer in 2014. Andy made an appeal in Jen's memory to help support our services which she had so valued during her illness.
"Penny Brohn UK helped us face the future with strength and positivity. Even when Jen was really sick, she had such a great way of engaging with people."
Jen was such a loving and caring mum, wife and friend – she was a very special person to so many. But our lives were turned upside down when she found a lump and, within a few weeks, was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer at just 33 years old. The family was devastated and overwhelmed with fear over what lay ahead.
We didn’t know where to turn … until we found Penny Brohn UK. Despite the diagnosis and everything that came with it, whether it was gruelling treatment or emotional stresses, Jen always retained her infectious smile that would light up a room. We were very scared of the future, but Penny Brohn UK helped us feel less scared and helped Jen take back control.
Penny Brohn UK helped us face the future with strength and positivity. Even when Jen was really sick, she had such a great way of engaging with people. Although the odds were against her, Jen remained incredibly upbeat and always got a real boost from the thought that her positivity might help others with cancer.
Jen and I attended a Living Well course at the beginning of her treatment. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience. For the first time since diagnosis, Jen regained control and purpose. She wasn’t going to give up and knew Penny Brohn UK wouldn’t either.
She received professional support including acupuncture and nutritional advice, and developed a superhuman determination to fight the disease – even through some unbelievably tough times. Jen also started swimming regularly, despite having a PIC line, Nordic walking and yoga. Penny Brohn UK made such a huge difference to our outlook and emotions.
Everything about the charity struck a chord with Jen. She ate well, exercised daily and did all the right things. Jen was very informed and determined, she knew why she should eat certain foods and the benefits of things like relaxation. But to have all this reaffirmed by Penny Brohn’s cancer specialists made a massive difference.
Penny Brohn was the place Jen came when she needed time to focus on herself, which isn’t easy when you’re a mum with two small children. She always made a point of dropping in after chemo or seeing the oncologist. Penny Brohn gave her the lift she needed to bounce back again and be positive – something that meant a lot to me, too.
Simply, Jen really loved this amazing place and everything it stands for. I still think of it as Jen’s place. But it’s also mine, and yours, available to anyone and I think that’s well worth supporting. I know that she’d want me, our family and friends to do whatever we could to continue to support it in her memory. There’s nowhere quite like it. Not having this compassionate and clued-up source of care is almost unthinkable, which is why we are committed to supporting Penny Brohn, so others can feel its warm, nurturing hands as well.
Sadly, Jen died in December 2014. Since, we have raised over £50,000 for Penny Brohn UK. My employer, Proact UK, has been fantastic, making Penny Brohn its Charity of the Year for several years running, also hosting balls and other fundraisers. Many family and friends have also gone above and beyond, through runs and other exhausting challenges – all for Jen – all for Penny Brohn UK. Jen would be thrilled that she’s still raising money for the charity that gave her so much support, so please support them.