Three lifelong friends, who have all faced breast cancer, have urged residents to sign an open letter to party leaders ahead of the next general election.

Jenny Hicks, from St Albans and her two best friends Alison and Jane - now all aged 65 - met at school in Hemel Hempstead over 60 years ago.

The trio, along with sharing a love of Elton John, have also shared a battle with breast cancer and have supported each other through the disease.

With Jenny's cancer now incurable, the trio are backing Cancer Research UK’s Longer, better lives: a manifesto for cancer research and care, and have asked Hertfordshire residents to to sign an open letter to party leaders ahead of the next general election.

Herts Advertiser: School friends Jenny, Alison and Jane.School friends Jenny, Alison and Jane. (Image: Cancer Research UK)

This open letter urges leaders to make the next General Election - expected by January 2025 - "a turning point for people affected by cancer".

Jenny, who was the first of the three to be diagnosed, commented: "It came completely out of the blue.

"I was 47 and leading a healthy life with a good diet and exercise when I found a lump just before I was due to go on holiday.

"I got it checked straight away and I was shocked when they told me it was cancer because I’d felt so healthy.

"I tried to stay positive and optimistic that everything was going to be alright and the girls were an amazing support. 

“When my hair started to fall out and I began to wear a hat, they both decided they would wear one too.

"They really kept me going throughout the treatment and when it came to an end, we threw a big fancy dress party to celebrate and dressed up as ‘The Supremes’ with bouffant wigs - the perfect way to disguise my hair loss. 

Herts Advertiser: The trio dressed as The Supremes.The trio dressed as The Supremes. (Image: Cancer Research UK)

“Life returned to normal, but then in 2009, Alison, who still lives in Hemel, was also diagnosed.

"She had two teenage boys at the time and tried not to make a fuss as she didn’t want them to worry.

"With Alison’s treatment over, we thought we were done with cancer, but in 2012, Jane, a radiographer specialising in breast cancer, got us together and said, ‘I’ve got some news’.

"I just knew what she was going to say. Jane had also been diagnosed with breast cancer.

"We were absolutely stunned that three close friends could all be diagnosed with the same disease but the fact we had gone through the same experience brought us closer together."

After Jenny's cancer returned in autumn last year (2022), she was informed that her condition was now incurable.

Herts Advertiser: Jenny, Alison and Jane met at a school in Hemel Hempstead.Jenny, Alison and Jane met at a school in Hemel Hempstead. (Image: Cancer Research UK)

She continued: “Soon after my diagnosis, I decided I wanted to plan my funeral and I told Jane and Alison which Elton John songs I’d like to be played and the fact there must be lots of marmite sandwiches – I love marmite.

"They’re there for me if I feel low or need to talk about dying. 

“Now though, I’ve parked all of that and am concentrating on living. Apart from regular monthly hospital appointments, I can do everything that I was doing before.


"I’m enjoying travelling, doing Race for Life with the girls and of course seeing Elton John.

"We saw him at Watford in 1974 and almost half a century later, were there to see him again recently. 

“I was sad to think that I’d never get to see my ten-year-old niece get married but thanks to the scientists who strive to find new ways to outsmart the disease and the incredible NHS staff who treat me, there’s a very real chance I might and that’s why I hope everyone will support Cancer Research UK’s manifesto so that we can all look to the future."

Cancer Research UK's open letter can be viewed at: