I’m Fiona. I live in beautiful west Wales with my husband and our much-loved, but very spoilt, Border Collie. I love all things creative and I’m a bit of a motorbike fan, too. I try to have fun as much as I can, and I love to laugh out loud! This is my story.
I want to keep the conversation going about breast cancer
I have worked in the NHS for the last 19 years, and my role as a Senior Communications Officer has kept me busy, never more so since the COVID-19 pandemic began. I’m lucky to be part of an amazingly talented and supportive team.
Whenever we can, my husband and I love to take our motorbike out for a spin or short trip away. We also love getting away to the coast in the caravan where we enjoy stunning coastal path walks and the fresh sea air, though it’s not been possible over the last year due to the pandemic.
At the end of 2018, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and since then, walking daily became an important part of my post-surgery recovery, for my physical health and mental well-being. When I felt back to full strength, I started running again, and it’s kept me feeling really good, particularly throughout the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
I had no noticeable symptoms but thanks to the breast screening service, it was detected at an early stage
Following my first routine mammogram, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2018. In January 2019, I had a single mastectomy, with reconstruction, and axillary clearance to remove the lymph nodes on the same side. My ongoing treatment involves medication for 10 years and a few infusions over 3 years to protect and strengthen my bones. I was very fortunate to have avoided chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I feel so grateful to have such a loving and supportive family, all of whom mean the world to me. My husband has been a tower of strength throughout, and I can’t thank him enough for always being by my side.
My mum has always been a huge inspiration to me. Even in her eighties, she remains a great listener and adviser, and is full to the brim with fun, energy and positivity. I, and the rest of my family, are forever grateful for her unwavering love and support. They, together with my friends and work colleagues, played a massive part in helping me to stay strong, positive, and forward-looking following my diagnosis and throughout my recovery.
We are in this together, and there’s lots of support out there
There’s so much value in people sharing their own personal stories that others can relate to and gain some benefit from, so while I normally shy away from publicity myself (I’m usually the one whose job it is to encourage others to share their stories), this felt a bit different, because I felt that sharing my experience may help others realise that they are not alone.
It’s also important that people seek advice from their GP or health care professional if they need it, even during the pandemic, the NHS is still there for you. I would urge anyone to make sure you attend your screening service appointment if offered it. It may save your life, it saved mine.
Why I got involved with wear it pink
I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet from Breast Cancer Now asking for volunteers to help in the wear It pink campaign. I don’t normally get involved in these things myself, but we were in the middle of lockdown and I needed to do something spontaneous and different. I thought this was a great opportunity to give something back for all the support I received when I was going through it. Every little bit helps; it’s vital that research into breast cancer not only continues but is enhanced, even more so now as the pandemic will likely have impacted on recent progress.
Most families have been touched by cancer in some way, so anything that keeps the conversation going has to be a good thing, not just about breast cancer but also prostate, bowel, and other cancers, too. The idea of wearing pink on a particular day is a great way to raise awareness that can be fun, inclusive, even therapeutic to some, and a shared experience, all while highlighting the serious side of the message: that we need cancer research to support learning and improvement that will benefit others in the future. It also serves as a reminder to get things checked if you have concerns or symptoms.
Getting involved with wear it pink has allowed me to reflect on my own experience, which has been a mostly positive one thankfully, leading up to and following diagnosis and pre/post-surgery. Every aspect of my patient-centred care and treatment was delivered to the highest quality by brilliant NHS staff, from the screening service, radiologists, consultants, nurses, and healthcare support workers to the hotel facilities, portering and administrative staff.
I do think cancer has changed me in a way that is difficult to describe, but I believe in facing things head on, taking control and working my way through it. I feel better and stronger now because of it and it’s important that people deal with their own situation in a way that feels right for them.
So, wear it pink and make it fun!
Involve family, friends, neighbours, and work colleagues, they’ll be delighted to get involved; set some time aside in advance of your event to think through what you want to do and how you want to do it; and make use of the fantastic resources provided by the wear it pink campaign team.