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Player Priorities | Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Lauren Hemp

Lauren Hemp is a professional footballer, playing as a forward for Manchester City Women and the first two-time winner of the PFA Women's Young Player Of The Year Award. Four years ago, Lauren's mum, Julie, was diagnosed with breast cancer, and in September, Lauren and her family supported Julie as she cycled 300 miles to raise money for Cancer Research UK. We caught up with Lauren to find out more about her mum's amazing charity work and how she’s been adapting to playing under the new Covid restrictions.

Lauren, what's it been like training and playing under the new Covid restrictions? 

There have been a lot of changes, but since the season started, it's a bit more normal now we're training together again. It is strange not having the fans there because sometimes they give you that extra motivation. People say fans are like the 12th man and they really keep us going in the last ten minutes of the game. They give us that fire and energy that keeps us working and fighting for a result. 

It's definitely been different, but we're getting used to all the protocols because the most important thing is for everyone to be safe, so hopefully, things can go back to normal as soon as possible. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the UK, why is breast cancer an issue close to your heart? 

It's very close to me and my family's heart as my mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2016, my nan also had it prior to that, and I've lost my granddad to cancer as well. Not everyone is as lucky as I am to still have my mum and nan here, so for us, it's a very important issue that sadly happens to many people around the world.

What impact did your mum's diagnosis have on you?

It had a massive impact on all of our lives. At the time I was 16, living away from home and playing at Bristol. It was hard to be away from home and my mum, and not being able to do anything to help. Although, I did find some comfort in the huge support my mum had from the rest of my family, whilst I wasn’t able to be there. It was hard to come to terms with it all, and I hated being so far away. My mum said she wanted me to keep concentrating on football, and that gave me the motivation to work harder and continue to make her proud because it would give her something positive to smile about. 

We hear she's been raising lots of money for charity, how did she get involved in fundraising? 

She's always wanted to do something to say thank you to the amazing charity for all that they've done for my family and the incredible work they do for many other families. She chose to cycle 300 miles during September and raised over £1,600! Her original target was only £250, so she's done really well. This is one of the reasons why my mum is such an inspiration to me. She's one of the bravest and strongest people, and through everything, she's still up for a challenge and wanting to do something to help other people. I'm so lucky to be able to call her my mum.

Did the PFA offer any support for her fundraising? 

Yes, they've been fantastic! They donated some money to the cause, and my mum and I appreciated it so much. My mum was overwhelmed by the amount of donations she received. It just shows there are so many kind and generous people out there who want to help find a cure for the disease. It's great to see the PFA not only help me out, but also my family. It just goes to show what a great community the PFA is. 

How important is it for players to regularly check their bodies for any changes? 

Cancer doesn't discriminate, so it's crucial players check their body for any changes regularly and speak to the doctors at their club if they have any worries. We must raise awareness around this issue because it could happen to anyone, so you should always let someone know if you have any concerns.

The wellbeing of players will always be our top priority at the PFA, and we’re passionate about keeping current and former players informed about issues that could affect them.   Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, with over 55,000 people diagnosed every year. Though it mostly affects women, it can affect men too, so its important to know what’s normal for your body and be aware of any changes.

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