Posted: 12 Oct. 2016 10 min. read

A day in the life of… Alison Ross

In this ‘A Day in the Life’ special, Alison Ross, Executive Assistant at Deloitte in Glasgow, tells us about taking part in the 2016 Breast Cancer Care Scotland Fashion Show. After being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer three years ago, Alison hopes to raise awareness of the disease by sharing her story from the big event.

In this ‘A Day in the Life’ special, Alison Ross, Executive Assistant at Deloitte in Glasgow, tells us about taking part in the 2016 Breast Cancer Care Scotland Fashion Show. After being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer three years ago, Alison hopes to raise awareness of the disease by sharing her story from the big event.

Here is a day in her life

Walking in the fashion show all started when…

…my partner Robert spotted an advertisement about the event in the Sunday Mail. He said I should apply, and, after some thought and procrastination, I decided to do just that! The fashion show seemed like something nice to do for myself – something I could do to cheer myself up and make me feel good again. So, I submitted my application, without thinking for a minute that I’d end up being selected to, not only walk on the catwalk in the fashion show, but to give a speech in front of hundreds of lunchtime and evening guests. Breast Cancer Care is inundated with hundreds of applications, so I felt very lucky and honoured to have been chosen to be part of it at all – let alone have such a big part in the event.

I was diagnosed…

…three years ago with breast cancer. Shortly after my initial diagnosis I was told I had something called secondary breast cancer. Secondary cancer means that the disease has spread to other parts of the body and can be treated, but not cured. Speaking at the Breast Cancer Care fashion show meant I had an opportunity to raise further awareness of the disease, which is something that’s very important to me – it’s not terribly well-known.

I woke up on fashion show day…

…at twenty past five in the morning, immediately feeling quite sick with nerves. I started asking what I had let myself in for and could hardly eat my breakfast! When I arrived at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow, it was straight to it; so we started rehearsals and began practicing the speeches. After a couple of run-throughs, I started to feel more relaxed - it was for a great cause and sharing my story would be very worthwhile.

Soon it was time for hair and make-up. We had stylists from Vidal Sassoon on hand to beautify us. Then, we had a dress rehearsal in our outfits, practicing the running order of the four different themes. Towards the end of the dress rehearsal, we could start to hear the guests arriving in the foyer for the lunchtime show. There was a real buzz in the atmosphere and everyone could feel the anticipation.

It’s show time…

… and, at this point, everyone was so excited. As soon as I had gone down the catwalk once, the worry washed away completely. I wish I could bottle the feeling that walking out there in front of everyone gave me. I felt like me again! When it was time for my second speech of the day, during the evening show, I took to the stage and looked around the room. I could see my mum; my best friend, Ruth; and my partner, Robert, all there to support me. Hearing people’s stories reinforced why we were all there together that evening – we were bonded by this disease. It’ something that resonates with a lot of people for many different reasons and at last count we had raised an amazing £165,000.

A moment I’ll never forget was…

… the finale! We were all on stage together with the song “Greatest Day” by Take That playing. As confetti burst out from huge canons, the feeling of sheer elation in the room was incredible and it’s something I’ll never forget. There was laughter, tears and hugs… we had all become friends and made something great happen out of what is a really difficult time for many people. I felt so proud of us all. Being involved in the fashion show is one of the best pick-me-ups I’ve had in the last three years.

Back to normality…

… the fashion show was a real high point for me and has given me something to smile about. Just after my diagnosis in 2013, it took me a while to get my head around it all. I won’t say it has been easy, and some days are better than others, but I have found myself accepting my diagnosis and coming to terms with what it means for the future. It wasn’t too long before I was doing the things I loved to do again. The prosecco evenings I enjoyed with my friends have returned and after the Breast Cancer Care fashion show, I certainly have a lot to talk about at our next one!

My favourite part of a typical day…

… is being greeted when I return home from work by my Tibetan Terrier, Jake. He is another high point for me throughout the last three years and has improved my life in so many ways. He helps me clear my mind of all the negative thoughts and feelings I have when I’m on my own. I rush home every night now to find him waiting on me with a huge welcome and a golden paw just for me. He’s great when Robert and I need a bit of a distraction, as it can be hard sometimes; but when we feel that way we can take Jake out for long walks to Mugdock Park – although perhaps not in the pouring rain like we did a few nights ago…

The best part about my job…

… is the people and the amazing support system I have around me. I feel so lucky to be able to continue working with a normal routine. Deloitte has enabled me to work flexibly, which is useful if I have certain appointments to attend. I also work from home on a Wednesday and when I’m in the office, people check in to make sure I’m not too tired or doing too much. I’m actually one of very few people I know dealing with breast cancer still going to work. Some people re-evaluate what’s important, and decide to give up their job. For me though, I enjoy being part of the firm. I have lots of friends at Deloitte and it’s certainly never dull! My work was a huge part of my life before all of this happened and I think it would be too much for me to give it all up.

Something I’m very grateful for…

… is the support I’ve received from my partner, Robert, who encouraged me to sign up for the fashion show in the first place. I’m also hugely grateful to my friends, family and colleagues, as well as the help and advice of Breast Cancer Care. From the literature and information on the website, to the different support groups available, it’s great to know it’s all there for me and others, whenever we need it.

If I could relive the fashion show again? I’d do it in a heartbeat. For now though, I’m about to enjoy a much-needed holiday after all the excitement in the run up to the event. Taking part in the show has left me with a wonderful, special memory. One that I’ll cherish for a long time and a memory that I might need in the future to get me through the difficult days. I can’t thank Breast Cancer Care enough for not only choosing me to be part of the fashion show, but for the support they have given, and will continue to give me, throughout my journey.

For more information about secondary breast cancer, please visit Breast Cancer Care’s website.

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