I was diagnosed in November 2012 with breast cancer following a routine mammogram – no signs or symptoms. My only son’s 15th birthday fell on the day after my initial mammogram and little did we know what was waiting around the corner.
Following the call back for the needle biopsy I had been told by the Consultant Radiographer that all I would need was a lumpectomy and annual mammograms. A rather over-optimistic assessment it turned out to be. In the meeting 15 minutes later with the Consultant Surgeon I was then told it was 110% I wouldn’t need a mastectomy - but could have one anyway if I wanted. Rather confusing. Also I would need 3 months radiotherapy which hadn’t been mentioned when I was given my needle biopsy results.
Following the histology results on the 28th December after the lumpectomy the goal posts then moved very dramatically. The breast cancer surgeon was totally shocked at the results. And he did apologise for his initial optimism. I ended up having chemotherapy, a mastectomy and 18 sessions of IV Herceptin plus numerous other tests and interventions. Hey ho - but being in the NHS for decades helped me to understand people are doing their best and the care from the NHS was exemplary. Luckily I didn’t feel as vulnerable as others might have done as I had the knowledge to question if I needed to.
In early 2016 my niece put me forward to be on Maggies on the Runway Fashion show. I couldn’t resist being a bit of a show off. What a joy to be involved with such a vibrant event in June 2016 and then again in 2018 strutting my stuff in my under-crackers on the Fig Leaves Catwalk with my Superstar Buddy Helen Bacon. What a wonderful experience.
After 15 months off work and returning full-time in April 2014 my post as Consultant Midwife was subsequently made redundant in October 2015 after a very stressful period of consultation. I subsequently took retirement in January 2016 and then had a DIEP breast reconstruction followed by further surgery in the October. My leaving of my job was not of my choosing so the last few years have been quite difficult in adjusting to a life without a role that I was still passionate about.
So where am I now nearly 7 years after diagnosis? I’m in a much better place and am getting used to a very different pace of life. Thankfully I am not now on any current treatment and was discharged from the Nightingale Unit last year.
I try and go swimming as much as I can (free for those of a certain age!), enjoy our Book Club, girly lunches and trivial pursuits such as manicures and underwear shopping. And holidays in the sun when I can.....
My son Theo is now nearly 22 and having had 2 years out before going to University he is now in Bristol studying Criminology and Sociology. Another change to adjust to but I’m sure all will be well. I’m currently planning to spend his inheritance with a new kitchen extension.....
Keeping in touch with my friends from Maggies on the Runway (MOTR) 2016 and 2018 has been immensely important to me over the last few years. Margo Cornish and the Maggie’s team make sure this continues. We meet up when we can and have a fun time – it’s certainly not all doom and gloom! When things are tough or sad there is always a listening ear. Friendships have been made that will last forever.
And it’s very exciting that there will be even more new friends to get to know at the BooBee Event on the 5th of October this weekend. I’m not on the stage this time but will be cheering from Jin Nettie Lunt’s VIP table with all my friends.