I was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer in October 2014. I’d found a lump while in the shower two weeks before, so when I was told the news it confirmed what I had already suspected.
I had eight chemotherapy sessions, a lumpectomy and three weeks of radiotherapy. I also took part in a clinical trial which involved intravenous drugs every three weeks for a year. This started at the same time as my fourth chemo session, so continued once my treatment had finished. I now take a tablet each day to halt the production of oestrogen, likely for five years, and also other tablets as I have recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis in my spine.
Be kind to yourself
To other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer I would say be positive and surround yourself with family and friends, you will need their support. Try to be open about your treatment and feelings, as people often don’t know what to say and if you’re open, it makes it easier for everyone. Dealing with breast cancer is tough, but I’ve been overwhelmed by the love and kindness of family, friends and colleagues. Be kind to yourself too, and celebrate those ‘good days’ between treatments – they are so valuable.
Finding the positives
Being diagnosed with cancer does change your life, although I initially thought that I would just crack on with things. But it's not all negative; I’ve taken part in a world-wide drug trial for my specific cancer and I’m about to become a volunteer patient advocate for Breast Cancer Now. I’ve also fundraised for Breast Cancer Now by holding annual wear it pink events and become passionate about encouraging people to check themselves for breast cancer and go to the doctor if they find anything.
Since my treatment I’ve found a new love for cooking and have loved friends coming to visit so I could tried out new recipes! I've swapped a gym session for yoga and I now value the basic things like the smell after the rain and hearing the birds sing.
I'm happy to say that I’m now cancer free; I hugged my oncologist when he told me. My hair has grown back, though it’s now wavy! I didn’t like it at first so I decided to just go crazy and dye it pink. Now if you look at me you wouldn’t think from my hair that I’d had cancer. My eyebrows and eyelashes are also starting to grow back and I’ve recently started putting mascara on and that was a bit of milestone for me. Sometimes it’s these small things that really make a difference and I’m feeling like I’ve got my old self back.
Research is the key
I've read so much since my diagnosis and believe that research is the key, along with initial prevention of course. That’s why I think it’s so important to support Breast Cancer Now and join in with wear it pink every year. One day we will unlock a cure for all types of breast cancers and women and men will finally stop dying from this disease.