YBCN founder Victoria Yates (Photo credit: Laura Hynd)

Younger Breast Cancer Network (YBCN) wins Best Cancer Support Group prize at Live Better With’s Spotlight Awards

Younger Breast Cancer Network (YBCN) has been awarded the Best Cancer Support Group prize at the inaugural Spotlight Awards by Live Better With.

Founded in 2012, YBCN is a support group which started off serving the local Manchester community and has since grown to support women nationally.  

We spoke to breast cancer survivor Victoria Yates who founded YBCN to find out more about this incredible group:

When Victoria Yates was diagnosed with breast cancer at 36, she found the fear isolation and sense of guilt overwhelming. She now helps younger women (aged 45 and younger) with breast cancer come together to support each other.

“I went to bed early one Saturday night – my husband was watching Match of the Day which bores me to tears – and examined my breasts. I was shocked to find a lump. Within a short time, I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer.”

She continued: “Suddenly I was thrust into the breast cancer world. I went from being a strong, independent, invincible, young mum to becoming a cancer patient. I felt out of place in the school playground as the mum with cancer and I felt out of place in the breast cancer unit as I was a few decades younger than everybody else there.

“I was utterly terrified and felt all alone, despite being surrounded by people who loved me.”

She discovered that charity Breast Cancer Care had an online support forum which she tried, but she found it hard to find relate to other people. “It’s not to say I didn’t meet some wonderful people,” Victoria explained. “But I was thinking of my 3 and 4-year-old and they were thinking about their grandchildren.”

Victoria continued: “I felt really isolated at the clinic as well because I was always at least a generation younger than everyone else there. That was quite hard-hitting. And you’re isolated in your normal life because I didn’t know anyone else who had cancer but when you’re older, you’re more likely to have come across it before. I was the only mum in the playground who had cancer and it was really difficult.

best cancer support group category

The support group offers support, advice and guidance to women aged 45 years and younger

Two years after her diagnosis, Victoria attended a the Younger Women Together event in Manchester, where she met several women who lived in the same area as her and who’d been through treatment at the same time.

“It was brilliant to meet them but I thought it was a real shame we hadn’t met each other before. That’s when I decided to set up a Facebook Page for young women in Manchester to find each other and connect with one another.”

In October 2012 I started a Facebook group – called the Younger Breast Cancer Network (UK). Initially, it was set up to connect younger women with breast cancer living in Manchester, but the group was soon opened up to women all over the country and also Ireland. To date, the group has had 3,100 members.

On winning the Best Cancer Support Group, 43-year-old Victoria said: “It’s absolutely lovely. I feel a bit bashful. It’s lovely to get this kind of feedback. It’s really hard work and the volunteers give up their own free time and it’s so lovely to know that we’re helping people and they found what I was missing. They now have somewhere to go where they feel normal.”

best cancer support group

The first of its kind, the Spotlight Awards shine a light on the achievements of truly remarkable people, products, and services in the cancer community. Nominated by the public, and voted by a panel of expert judges, the winners are from all walks of life, of all ages, and from across the world.

The Spotlight Awards have been organised by Live Better With, an award-winning online platform where cancer patients and their loved ones can find products and information to help with the symptoms and side effects of living with cancer.

See the full list of Spotlight Award winners here.