Hi! I’m Sally-Anne and I joined Bridge2Aid in November last year. I thought I would just give you a bit of an insight into me, my work with Bridge2Aid and how I have managed through a number of challenges and changes over the past few months and my plans for the future.
Back in the Autumn of last year I was very excited to secure a position with B2A having just left a UK Bank after 23 years. At almost the same time I was rather annoyingly diagnosed with breast cancer. This did not come as a huge surprise as I had had Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the lymph glands, when I was 19 and due to the radiotherapy treatment used at that time, had a higher risk of breast cancer in my 40s.
So, my family and I absorbed the information and options available and I had a mastectomy and reconstruction in October. My recovery was really helped by the fantastic support and positive messages I received from family and friends.
Having cleared this hurdle I was then able to start with Bridge2Aid fully in January and now work a 27 hour week. This has been a terrific opportunity to be a part of a really successful charity and be a part of its growth going forward. Again there were challenges here as I had to learn new systems, get to know a new team and also new ways of working. It was very strange being the ‘new girl’ again.
What made this all achievable though was how lovely and supportive the team were. Everyone was really understanding and really didn’t expect me to know everything straight away. The only person who got frustrated with not knowing exactly what was going on was me!
So what is it I get up to each day? Well the core ethos of the charity is to help people who have no access to dental care, get treated, but also provide a legacy of dental care afterwards. What makes this possible is the team in Tanzania who organise the training and logistics of the volunteers coming over, and the UK team in recruiting these volunteers. So I, with my job share partner Nat, make sure we have a simple application process, we interview the applicants and then arrange training days in the UK for them. In addition we book their flights and provide them with the information they need to go out to Tanzania.
I am completely sold on the core values of this charity but was interested to know what others thought and have had some terrific feedback from the volunteer dentists and nurses. Their keenness to be able to make a difference to people who just do not have access to dental care is key. The fact that having trained the medical officers, and also treated the patients, the dentists and nurses then know they have left a legacy of trained medical officers is completely fulfilling.
In addition, volunteers also get to experience a very different culture and way of life. This can be a real eye opener and reality check on the conditions that people work and live in day to day, and how these compare.
So having settled into the job I have also decided I ought to get fit again. I am not a ‘runner’ but I try to do the Cancer Research Race for Life each year for obvious reasons. Now, last year I ran the whole race, the first time I hadn’t walked any of it, start to finish in 35 minutes. However, this year will be rather different as the mastectomy and reconstruction have meant I have to be rather careful.
So, what have I done to give myself a challenge, signed up for a 5k? Yes, I will do the Race for Life again in July. But I thought I would go one step further and have also signed up for the Bupa 10k in London on 27 May – and yes, absolutely running for Bridge2Aid. In terms of training, following a horrible cough and cold which I know the world seems to have had, I am now starting to run a bit. So this will not be a fast 10k by any means but hopefully one that I will get around in not too long a time. So watch out if you live nearby as you might see me ‘zooming’ past, in my jogging gear. Not a pretty sight!
So, as I had said at the start, this has been a very interesting few months. I do consider it has been a race, with some pretty high hurdles which I have cleared. How have I managed to do this? Finding the right people to advise and help me when needed, and ensuring I have a really strong network of family and friends available to keep me positive and really help push me through. Whatever life throws at you, keeping positive makes it much more manageable. And finally, sheer stubbornness that I will not be beaten. So trainers at the ready, I’m off for a ‘walk-jog’…