Women's Football

Jen Beattie wins 2021 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award

Toby Cudworth
Jennifer Beattie has battled breast cancer
Jennifer Beattie has battled breast cancer / Visionhaus/GettyImages
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Arsenal and Scotland defender Jen Beattie has been honoured with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason award for 2021.

The 30-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2020, but is now cancer-free after continuing to play for club and country throughout her course of treatment.

The Helen Rollason Award was set up in memory of BBC Sport presenter, who died of cancer at the age of 43 in 1999, and recognises the achievements of those who have overcome tremendous adversity over the past year - something Beattie has done in spadefuls.

"Getting told you have cancer is a life changing moment," Beattie said in a moving video interview.

"It was horrific. There was no other way to describe it, especially in the middle of a pandemic and you don't have your sort of friends and family in the room there with you.

"I found out that I didn't need chemo, but obviously I needed radiotherapy. It was a very, very lonely, isolating moment.

"They became my family, they became my support system," Beattie added of her Arsenal teammates, with her family unable to support and attend appointments because of Covid-19 guidelines. "I'm so, so grateful for every single one of them."

Beattie is now an ambassador for breast cancer charities, and has previously stressed how important it is for every woman to have the confidence to get checked should they feel something unusual.

"A lot of people maybe don't think they'll go through something difficult like that," Beattie said in October.

"Me personally, I had zero family history of breast cancer, or any type of cancer, so it's more common than we think. But if people get checked and find these things early then it can be okay.

"It's important to use the platform I have playing for Scotland and at club level to voice my experience and what I went through, to try to encourage people to go to GPs and hospitals to get these things checked, especially through the pandemic, and to share that my experience was really safe."

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