I was diagnosed with grade 3 triple negative inflammatory breast cancer on 4 May 2017 at the age of 38. My initial thought was how my family and friends were going to take the news. I remember thinking I’m not going to let it kill me, so it’s all going to be OK.
I had chemotherapy within 2 weeks of diagnosis. This included 7 sessions of IV chemo and a double mastectomy in September 2017. This was followed by 14 sessions of radiotherapy in December 2017 and then chemo tablets until March 2018.
As I have had radiotherapy I was advised to delay reconstruction for at least 12-18 months, and am now on a waiting list, which can take over a year. I haven’t yet decided whether to have reconstruction or to live flat. My decision about surgery is not one to take lightly so I’m doing a lot of research to make the best decision for me.
Whilst I was going through treatment I was kind to my body, and I still am. I am now back to full time work, and although it’s tough I wouldn’t change a thing. I also no longer sweat the small stuff and value every single moment of every single day.
To other people who have been diagnosed, remember it is not a life ending diagnosis. There’s lots of support available and you absolutely can get through it. I’ve had a pretty tough time, but have managed to get through the other side. Be kind to yourself.
I love the wear it pink campaign – it’s easy to do, very visual and involves pink – what more do you want?!
On a more important note, it’s so crucial to raise awareness of breast cancer and to check your breasts regularly. Most breast lumps are not cancerous; I was just unlucky that mine was. My cancer is not a typical one - Inflammatory breast cancer usually presents as a red rash but luckily I had a lump as well which encouraged me to go to the doctors quicker.
Since I’ve had breast cancer, I've been made aware of so many families that have been touched by the disease – mum's, grandparents, cousins, sisters etc. Without scientific research and advances in breast cancer, I would’ve had a very different prognosis due to my very aggressive cancer. I have been supported all the way through my journey, and feel the need to channel my energy into something positive.
With increasing research, we can ensure that fewer women have to go through what I and others have been through. I have a sister, a niece and so many inspirational women in my life. The thought of any of them having to go through this breaks my heart.
I have already lost two friends on this journey and another two are terminal, so although there have been major advances in the last few years, it’s still an illness that kills people.
So, I will wear it pink. Join me in helping make life-saving research happen.