The Modern Day Superhero
A superhero often has extraordinary powers, skills and equipment beyond our means. Superhero powers vary widely; superhuman strength, the ability to fly, enhanced senses, and the projection of energy bolts are all common features. Others have special weapons or technology.
Well, that is the comic book definition of what a super hero is projected as, but the modern day superhero walks among us in the streets. We have little knowledge of them until they enter our lives but they are always in the background. They don’t possess suits, or masks to hide their identity, nor do they need a waist belt with gadgets that could give batman a run for his money. But they do hold a very special unique power, a power beyond any energy bolts zapping out of ones finger tips, a power that is so strong it could bring any villain to their knees. They hold the ability to touch lives and change them. These superheroes are called amazing women. They could be your relatives , a work colleague or someone sat opposite you on the underground.
On the 22nd September, I was introduced to these unspoken heroes by AOL’s women’s website mydaily.com. Women from all over the UK who were nominated by a close friend or family member to take part in the amazing woman campaign. The campaign was to celebrate women that balance their careers, parenting, caring or volunteering with little or no recognition. The winners were then treated to a fabulous day of pampering at The Sanctuary spa in Covent Garden, followed by afternoon tea at the Savoy Hotel hosted by the gorgeous Danni Minogue.
Afternoon Tea was opened with a magnificent champagne reception as Kate Burns, Senior Vice President of AOL Europe addressed the winners over a delicious spread fit for a queen. After photo opportunities with Miss J from America’s Next Top Model, Danni Minogue presented a £20,000 cheque to Kris Hallenga, founder of Coppafeel charity.
To say Kris is an amazing woman is somewhat of an understatement. She is the ultimate superhero and a beacon of strength for all women. As Kris’s story unfolded the room fell silent, I immediately felt a funny feeling in between butterflies and pain. Kris Hallenga had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the tender age of 23 years old. She was smiling all the way through her speech and had a proud inner glow which shone with positivity.
“At 22 I was sippin’ the sweet cocktail of life; little did I know I had a deadly disease festering inside of me. I had noticed my breast becoming increasingly lumpy almost a year prior to my diagnosis. Much like women my age, I was taking a contraceptive pill and assumed that to be the cause. In June 2008 I shared my worries with my mum and sister who moaned at me enough to see my GP. I wasn’t a fan of doctor’s trips and went there for pure reassurance that I was absolutely fine. And that’s what I got. My GP kindly suggested for me to take Evening Primrose Oil and sent me on my jolly way. The fact that my grandmother had breast cancer at the ridiculous age of 30 had no bearings on whether perhaps I should be referred. Nothing, nadda, zilch. So off I went on my footloose and fancy free trip to China in search of carefree adventure – what worries would I possibly have? Whilst there, my breast had its tender days which I again, put down to my pill consumption. 6 months later I returned home knowing I needed an MOT. China can leave some serious lasting health issues – mentally and physically! So the day after my return I waltzed up to my Doctors surgery only to be told that I’m “fine”, it’s “hormonal” oh and “you were examined 6 months ago weren’t you?” That was my lot. Luckily I have a no-bullshit mother who drove me to make another appointment a week later in order to demand a referral. I literally had to ask for it. She reluctantly succumbed. A month later I stared the prospect of a boobless and hairless life right in the face. Not only did I have a 6x9cm tumour in my breast, but I had one sitting comfortably on my spine. I am at stage IV, the most advanced stage of cancer, there is no stage V. What were the doctors waiting for?I’ll just keep on keepin’ on.”
In December 2010, Coppafeel was born out of a selfless thought, as Kris did not want her situation to happen to anyone else. She formed a small team and went forth to change how young women viewed their breasts and to educate them on the dangers of breast cancer. For me to sit here at my desk and try to translate all the wonderful work Kris has done is hard, so I implore you to log on to the Coppafeel website and read her story and become familiar with the charity’s work.
As the evening drew to a close, we all left having shared experiences, laughter and stories. We swapped twitter accounts, email addresses and mobile numbers, and we had left in the knowledge that superheroes don’t just exist in comic books and films. They don’t wear masks or have suits made of iron, they come in the form of the modern women who go the extra mile to touch our hearts and change our lives.
To find out more about Coppafeel visit http://www.coppafeel.org/