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John from Breast Cancer Now shares his MoonWalk London Experience

John Franglen works on the Data Team for our great friends at the charity Breast Cancer Now. Walk the Walk has granted more than £34 million to Breast Cancer Now over the last 23 years, for vital research into breast cancer. At 6 ft 4 inches, and wearing a decorated bra, John certainly stood out on the night of The MoonWalk London!

“Working in the Data Team at Breast Cancer Now - making sure that we’re contacting the right people, using the right data – means that I don’t have the day day-to-day interaction with supporters that a lot of my co-workers do. But it still makes a real difference - it lets me do a technical thing that I’m good at, whilst knowing I’m helping a cause that is stopping people dying from breast cancer.

I had a fair idea about The MoonWalk London, having volunteered on the baggage tent in 2017. But then last year, I decided that I would take part in The MoonWalk itself, and signed up for the Half Moon.

Working for Breast Cancer Now means I get to hear about the difference that funding for breast cancer research makes and taking part in The MoonWalk meant I’d meet some of those whose life could be changed by new treatments being developed. I know the research, services and initiatives funded by Walk the Walk, both within BCN and elsewhere, will have a real impact on saving and improving lives.

Another motivation for me taking part is not something I speak about much. My mother Venetia died of secondary breast cancer, eleven years to the month before I did The MoonWalk. She was a real fighter - when she first got breast cancer, despite being on fierce chemo and radiotherapy, she was still in work whenever she could be. And after her treatment, she leapt straight into the patient involvement side of things — representing the needs and perspectives of patients to the NHS, to try and get them the best treatment and support they could, similar to some of the work Breast Cancer Now does through the Service Pledge. So I know it’s something she would have supported, and walking in her memory helped keep up my drive to finish it.

Taking on something I actually enjoyed was very important too. I don't find running fun and I'm not sure I could ever see myself running a marathon, whereas I wouldn't be surprised if I did The MoonWalk again. I’d never walked fifteen miles in one go before, but the training helped and I got myself to the point where I could do it because it was enjoyable. Yes, it was a challenge, to build up my fitness, but it was fun to find new routes and new places to explore - the main thing I love about walking (especially around London) is seeing different areas, being able to pause for a minute and enjoy seeing new things. One day I'd walk half of my route home and then catch a train or bus for the rest and vice-versa another day. Or I’d get a train past where I live then walk back towards home. For the last few long walks I went along the banks of the Thames and got all the way out to the Thames Barrier once!

On the night of The MoonWalk, from the moment I got on the train from home towards the event I was spotting other people obviously heading that way and started chatting with them — everyone was so enthusiastic about it! It also reminded me a little bit of when I’m standing up at big meetings at work, in that I'm 6'4", so I'm used to being surrounded by a sea of people at my shoulder height or shorter 😉.

The walking itself was good — there was always a good number of people around, all supporting each other. My feet got quite painful towards the end, but I just responded by walking faster, to get it done, and you could tell everyone else was feeling the same.
The enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone as I saw more and more people on the route of The MoonWalk was incredible. Previously, as a bag-tent volunteer, I’d arrived before people most walkers had got there, so the area was quite quiet, whereas turning up as a walker myself, the area around Clapham was just surrounded by cowboy hats – which we had all been given to tie in with last year’s Wild West theme!

I loved seeing landmarks illuminated in pink, or performers along the route – they were brilliant for keeping up my enthusiasm and I really felt like the walk was making its mark on London.

The long-running relationship between Walk the Walk and BCN is fantastic. Without the funds raised by all of the walkers who take part in Walk the Walk events, we simply wouldn’t have been able to carry out as much pioneering research – discovering ways to find breast cancer earlier, treat it more effectively and stop it from returning, so that people with breast cancer can live well.

I’m so proud of completing The MoonWalk - I’ve still got my MoonWalk medal sitting on my desk wrapped around ‘data bear’ – our mini-team mascot!“ - John

Feeling inspired to join Walk the Walk in 2019? Boogie on down to and get into the groove with our Disco Inferno-themed MoonWalk London!

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