The were quite a few Women footballers awarded gongs in the New Years Honours list. Obviously our very own Beth Mead got one for being Player Of The Tournament and Golden Boot winner as England won the Euros, and the England and Arsenal Womens captain Leah Williamson was also rewarded, but a surprise recipient of an MBE was Arsenal’s Scottish defender Jen Beattie, who obviously wasn’t involved in the Euros.
There was no one more shocked than Beattie herself though, and this is how she described hearing the news to the Scotsman: “I received a call from my agency and I burst out crying straight away,” she said. “Never in a million years would I expect to receive that kind of honour. It was a huge surprise.
“It still feels very surreal. The biggest thing is being in and amongst the other names that have got it. It feels like a bit of imposter syndrome being in the same category as some unbelievable names.
“I was allowed to tell close family only. It was a bizarre call, and an emotional one, because I was obviously on my own. It went straight into the family WhatsApp group chat, but it was nice to get home and share the news with my parents and my brother and sister and celebrate it over the Christmas period.”
Although she wasn’t in the Euros, Jen won the award for her amazing work promoting cancer awareness after she was told she had breast cancer back in 2020, and despite going through surgery to remove a lump and radiotherapy treatment, she continued to train and play for Arsenal and Scotland, while also doing lots of charity work to try to save other womens lives.
But she remains humble and admits that she is glad to be able to continue to promote cancer awareness. “Getting that news [of being awarded an MBE] does make you reflect. You think to yourself ‘why? what have I done?’. It was so unexpected, so you question it. But then you look back and think OK, some pretty big things happened and I just tried to deal with them the best way I knew how to. You never do these things to receive awards like this, it is just one of the things that happens.
“Everything that has come off the back of a very, very unfortunate thing – being diagnosed with cancer – to be recognised in this way is beyond anything I could have imagined when I was going through that period. It is something I don’t take for granted and something I take even more seriously with the charity work I do now and to keep spreading and sharing the awareness of something that is really important to me.”
She even used this interview to try to remind women to keep a close eye on their bodies. She continued: “The charity work is something I am so passionate about. Obviously I went through the diagnosis of breast cancer and the importance of checking yourself and going to get checked.
“If you feel anything out of the norm, the likelihood of it being nothing is quite high. But the likelihood of it being something is still worth going to get checked and finding something early.
“The most important thing for me is taking away the embarrassment of it. We live in a world where we sometimes only talk about the positive things. There are a lot of difficult things and the more we talk about them the easier it becomes.
“There is no embarrassment in getting things checked by your GP and being told it is nothing, because if it is something and you’ve caught it early – it can be OK. There’s so many ways for things to be OK in the end”.
As Beattie has proven, if you can get an early diagnosis, you are much more likely to be able to fight it, so please feel free to share Beatties message with all your friends and relatives, whether they like Womens football or not…
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