How old were you and how did you come to be diagnosed?
I was diagnosed in November 2015 when I was 47 years old. I felt a lump in my right breast, but initially wasn’t too concerned as I had a previous history of cysts. This time was different though – I was sent for a biopsy and later that week the breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed.
One of my first thoughts was for my sister and that I needed to tell her the news in person (she lives in Somerset). We had lost both our parents to cancer during the previous two and a half years and I knew she would be very upset.
What would be your one piece of advice for others starting on this journey?
Be kind to yourself, give yourself time, don’t try to do too much and ask for help if you need it. You get told about the possible physical side effects of chemotherapy, but you don’t realise just how much it will affect you mentally as well.
What type of surgery did you have? What were your first thoughts?
I had a mastectomy to remove my right breast. Once I knew the cancer was there I just wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible.
What is the best thing to come out of diagnosis?
I remember being very nervous on my first visit to a Crazy Hats coffee morning, but I’ve made lifelong friends in the rest of the Dare To Bare group as a result. We’ve had some wonderful times together and I’m sure this calendar project won’t be the last challenge we set ourselves.
Who or what couldn’t you do without during treatment?
In terms of who, I’m certain I wouldn’t have got through without my husband, Chris, my sister and my best friend. They all played a part in helping me over some of the worst times.
As to what I couldn’t do without, my sense of taste was all over the place – so many foods and drinks didn’t taste right, even plain water. Cold milk was one of the only things I enjoyed drinking and I used it to take my tablets.
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, dependable, shy
Biggest achievement to date?
Apart from surviving breast cancer…?
Setting up Weatherbys Racing Club in 2006 for the staff at Weatherbys where I worked for 20 years. It was fun to do but it took a lot of organisation, not dissimilar to the Dare To Bare calendar! The club was very lucky that our first horse was extremely talented and won four races, including her first race at Towcester and another at Ascot. She also finished third in a race at the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. It’s a while since I left the company but the club is still going.
Craziest thing you have done since treatment?
Taken part in the photo shoots for the Dare To Bare calendar! I also took to the catwalk to model Nicola Jane swimwear for a small fashion show, together with some of the rest of the Dare To Bare team. Can’t imagine I’d have been brave enough to do either of these things before I had cancer.