Local hero Georgie turned having breast cancer into a positive
14:45 11 July 2012
Grandmother-of-five Georgie de la Nougerede has heard the stomach-churning words “you have breast cancer” three times since she was 45 – the last three years ago on her 60th birthday.
But on each occasion, the former shop owner has fought back and beaten the illness – and what’s more she has helped raise more than £190,000 to save the lives of others.
Georgie, of Gardinier Road, Bickley, along with three other women receiving treatment under the Princess Royal University Hospital’s surgeon Ali Desai, decided to form charity South East London Breast Cancer Trust in 2010 to support those going through similar experiences.
She had never done any fundraising before but was desperate to give something back after receiving “brilliant” care from Mr Desai.
What started out as an attempt to buy a much needed £ 65,000 lymph-node analyser – which detects if the cancer has spread, often removing the need for a second round of surgery – has turned into a relentless movement to improve the lives of women experiencing utter despair.
“From the moment you find a lump you begin planning your funeral,” the 63-year-old said. “It was a surreal moment when I found myself asking ‘am I going to die?’”
The charity works in all three of the hospitals in Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich, supplying them with the fruits of their fundraising labour and talking to patients on the grassroots level about what would make them more comfortable.
The requests vary from medical staff’s pleas for much needed equipment like pumps and drugs trolleys to coat stands, DVD players and porcelain mugs instead of flimsy polystyrene cups.
“I get so much satisfaction talking to the patients and finding out how we can help them, even small things can make a big difference,” said Georgie.
Fundraising is tough but two years since its inception, the charity has nine trustees including Georgie and more than 60 helpers they call on to regularly shake buckets at The Glades, pack shopping bags and host events like fashion shows and dinner dances.
“We even managed to chuck Mr Desai out of plane,” Georgie chuckles, referring to the skydive the surgeon did last year, in aid of the charity.
Explaining how setting up the organisation has affected her, she said: “I truly believe things happen for a reason. They completely change who you are as a person. I realised what is important and that life is so short. I wonder why people can’t just be nicer to each other.”
Looking to the future, the mother-of-four and two other trustees are training to provide a buddy scheme for newly diagnosed patients. They already have a 24-hour telephone service.
The keen writer has also penned a book with funny stories about their hospital experiences, with all the proceeds going to the charity.
Georgie paid tribute to the other trustees – Chris Oliver, Karen Caton-Hewings, Sam Crinnion, Anil Desai, Miles Bullock, Sarah Witton, Alison Hookham, Keith Roberts and Sam Featherstone.
She added: “Who would have thought after that first coffee morning at my house we would have grown to have this great charity?”
n To find out about the work of SELBCT visit www.selbct.org