Denise’s passionate Twilight Walk plea

Every year, Twilight Walk for Women’s Health brings people together to support the tens of thousands of women in our community facing women’s health concerns such as breast or ovarian cancers.

As one of Bournemouth Hospital Charity’s flagship events, Twilight Walk will see families, friends and loved ones gather together on the Bournemouth Pier Approach on Friday 18 May and raise money to improve treatment for women’s health patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

One local woman taking part – academic Denise Hewlett – knows exactly how it feels to have her life turned upside down by a breast cancer diagnosis.

Having received treatment at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Jigsaw Unit after her diagnosis in 2017, Denise says she still remembers in intense detail the exact moment she learned she was living with breast cancer.

“As soon as I saw the envelope, I just knew,” says Denise.

“Call it women’s intuition or whatever, I just knew. I opened the envelope and there it was – a recall letter following a simple mammogram check. I can still feel, smell and see that letter in my mind as clearly as if it were in front of me today.”

Denise says life was almost surreal until a radiology consultant showed her x-ray scans of the tumour in her breast.

“The day of the biopsy, I felt simply like I was skating on ice,” she says.

“The next two hours were excruciating, just pure fear. I was asking myself ‘oh my God, is this curable? Is this treatable? Am I going to die, so early, not even reach 55? How am I going to tell my family? My friends? What about my work?’

“After getting out into the fresh air, I rationalised that I was going to get great treatment and that someone wonderful in the Royal Bournemouth Hospital’s Jigsaw Unit would be dealing with me and then, for the next two weeks, I felt fine and carried on with life pretty much as normal.

Denise Hewlett

“I was told that my specialist had a hunch that it had been caught early and that I would likely have surgery and radiotherapy. I kept thinking ‘I can deal with this.’’”

Initially anxious to share her diagnosis with her close friends, Denise eventually decided to document her treatment on her Facebook page ‘Roast Beef & Raspberries’, offering her thoughts and support for women facing similar situations.

“I’d say that I’m a very confident person, but I didn’t really want anybody to know,” she explains. “I told my dad, I told close family but it took me a good few days to summon up the confidence to tell close friends without breaking down.”

Over the coming months, Denise would have regular contact with the hospital’s breast care team, who she describes as ‘simply amazing’.

“When they say ‘if you’re worried about anything, ring us’, they really do mean it,” she says. “They listen, they care and are so kind in what understandably is a terrifying experience. They organise for you to see your consultant if needs be. They are amazing.”

It is because of this why Denise is urging people to join her on this year’s Twilight Walk for Women’s Health – an event Denise says is of absolute importance to women like her.

“It means everything,” says Denise. “Not just to breast cancer patients, but all women’s health patients.

“It’s not just about money, it’s also about people taking time out to consider other people. Not just for their own purpose, but for the purpose of supporting others.”

Twilight Walk for Women’s Health is open to all ages and abilities with men and boys encouraged to join along too. Hundreds of people have already signed up for the event on and will amass on the Bournemouth Pier Approach on 18 May.

“Some women aren’t as lucky as me,” Denise says. “They might be up on the Oncology Ward at the moment receiving chemotherapy – they might not have even survived their diagnosis. But for every person that tries to do something to help, it gives those of us experiencing this disease that increased bit of strength. It gives hope and that helps us get through.

“It means everything that people in their hundreds take part in events like Twilight Walk for Women’s Health – some of them every single year. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We need more people to do more! And to those that do help, thank you.”

Anyone wanting to sign up and show their support for women in their community can do so at or by calling the Charity Office on 01202 704060.

Twilight Walk for Women's Health
Twilight Walk for Women's Health

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