How old were you and how did you come to be diagnosed?
I was diagnosed three years ago, less than two weeks after my 41st birthday. I found the lump myself purely by chance. When I realised it was breast cancer I was totally floored although I was actually quite calm to start with. I went back to work the next day and was very matter of fact about it all. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after my surgery, that the enormity of it really hit home.
What would be your one piece of advice for others starting this journey?
Receiving a cancer diagnosis (of any kind) is massive. There is so much information to deal with. You are forced to take everything one day at time and deal with each hurdle as it comes. It will change your life forever but that doesn’t have to be in bad way. There are still days when I get angry and resentful and think ‘why me?’ but equally cancer has brought new friends into my life, made me re-evaluate what is important and proved to myself just how strong and determined I can be!
What type of surgery did you have? What were your first thoughts?
I had a full mastectomy with lymph node clearance. I made the decision to have surgery without reconstruction as I just wanted the cancer out as soon as possible.
What is the best thing to come out of diagnosis?
I have a different perspective on life. I try not to ‘sweat the small stuff’ anymore and embrace opportunities when they arise. I also have a great new set of friends; we get on so well, we always have fun and we know there is always someone there whenever we need support.
Who or what couldn’t you do without during treatment?
My family! My parents and my husband were massively supportive, coming with me to appointments and picking me up when I was down. My kids gave me the focus I needed to carry on as ‘normal’. Although we told them I was ill I’m not sure they understood the seriousness of the situation and so we lived our life with as little change as possible. I still took them to school and picked them up almost every day. My treatment became an additional thing in our lives rather than the focus.
Describe yourself in three words.
Determined, organised, reliable.
Biggest achievement to date?
Making it through treatment! It was a massive effort at times to pick myself up from each low point and put on a brave face to the outside world. I’ve realised I am much stronger than I previously thought.
Craziest thing you have done since treatment?
A charity tandem parachute jump. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I can highly recommend it!!