Thank you to Deborah, the brains behind The Barrowby Bamboozler, for sharing her story.
In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer aged 33. I underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy, double mastectomy and reconstruction. I gave up work during this time to recover and focus on my family. In early 2015 I had an operation to fit breast implants which was the final reconstruction operation required. I felt like life was becoming more normal with less treatment and no operations on the horizon. I have always been an entrepreneur and was on the lookout for my next opportunity! I was keen to find my next project but was struggling for inspiration. Then one morning I had a 'Eureka' moment! I was in bed and still had the drain attached from the operation and announced I was going to start a local magazine. I chatted it through with my family and whilst batting ideas around we came up with a puzzle magazine about businesses and then the name 'Barrowby Bamboozler'.
I was keen to get started and went out into town to speak to some local businesses that day. I carefully fitted the drain inside a coat as I thought the sight of it may put people off!! Being the determined person I am, insisted my husband drive me into town to see what local business owners thought of the idea. I immediately sold several pages and it went down very well. I came home and got started that day. The initial idea was to create a magazine that was fun and interactive but also supported businesses so I kept my prices low at just £25 for a whole page. My idea was that by doing an interactive puzzle specifically about the business featured, it would be more memorable to readers as they spend on average 10 mins completing a puzzle and therefore studying the business rather than just glancing over a standard advert.
In early 2016, the magazine evolved when I was at the Nottingham City Hospital one day as part of a vaccine trial to prevent the cancer returning. I was effectively a 'human guinea pig'!! Lol! I had agreed to take part in a trial to help future generations with my thoughts focused on my daughter's future. I needed to do everything in my power to help her and future generations so happily offered up my body to be poked, prodded and injected. I was sat in the waiting area designing puzzles and my nurse asked me about it and mentioned it might be good for the hospital. I offered to do one and with my nurse’s help we managed to get agreement to do a magazine for the hospital. I thought it would be an ideal place for a puzzle magazine as it can entertain the patients while they are waiting for hours, sometimes. But also, I decided I would donate 20% of the profits to Professor Chan’s Breast Cancer research at the hospital. I wanted to give something back after the treatment I had received under his care.
In May 2016 I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in my liver and bones. It was a complete shock and a day I will never forget. My world literally crashed around me as I heard Prof tell me the test results. I was immediately put back into chemotherapy and a targeted therapy as well as jabs to help strengthen my bones. During the time that I was going through chemotherapy I received a lovely gift set from a friend through Not Another Bunch Of Flowers. The gifts were lovely and practical and I really appreciated them. I got in touch with Anikka before I wrote the next Nottingham edition to see if she would like to be featured and to my delight she said yes and has been in the magazine ever since. I am so grateful for her kind support.
I finished chemo in August 2016 and I am now on a targeted therapy and have one day in hospital every 3 weeks which is part of my normal life now and it’s nothing in comparison to what I’ve been through! Prof Chan and my nurses are keeping me alive with the latest drugs which are created through research. I wanted to support Prof by donating 20% of my profits to his breast cancer research at the Nottingham City Hospital. If it wasn’t for the amazing treatment, I wouldn’t still be here and currently in remission with no signs of the cancer.
I love doing the magazines. I enjoy writing it, promoting it, replying to emails and hearing how much readers enjoy the magazine. I love creating the puzzles and distributing the Nottingham magazine at the hospital. The departments are very grateful for it and it is popular amongst patients. I distribute 1000 free hard copies of the magazine to the hospital five times a year. I also have a free email subscribers list and upload the magazine onto my website at Barrowby Bamboozler. The magazine is available to anyone either by email or via my website.
I’m extremely passionate about my magazine, I feel I am helping to entertain patients as well as raise money. I know how hard it is waiting around whilst having treatment or waiting for life changing results. If I can help take people’s minds off what’s going on around them for a couple of hours, then that’s fantastic and I have achieved my goal.