I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January 2015, aged 48 – so 2 years before routine mammograms are offered.
I’d had a couple of small lumps investigated over 10 years ago that turned out to be nothing, so I am ashamed to admit that I never checked my boobs – especially as there is no family history at all.
One night I just couldn’t get to sleep and crossed my arms in frustration - and that’s when I felt a lump on the outside of my right breast; had it been anywhere else I wouldn’t have felt it and that’s a sobering thought!!
An appointment with my GP, who is fantastic, confirmed that it was worth an urgent referral. Before I knew it I was having an ultrasound scan and being told that they were very sorry but it looked likely to be cancerous. As I returned to the clinic waiting room I tried to read my book but kept staring at the same line thinking about my teenage daughter and what effect this would have on her…….. My mind wandered further and I remember thinking – hang on, I’ve found this early and there is an effective treatment, so let’s get on with it. I vowed to stay positive as I believe that the person you are isn’t defined by what happens to you, but how you react to it!
So began almost a year of treatment. First was a lumpectomy but the cancer had spread to the sentinel node – so not such an early detection after all! That probably hit me harder than the original diagnosis and I needed a second operation to remove all my lymph nodes; but thankfully no others were affected.
Chemotherapy wasn’t pleasant and was delayed on a couple of occasions due to my adverse reactions; but it was a means to an end. My daughter had the dubious honour of shaving my head as my hair started to fall out – but not until she’d chosen me a stylish wig!!
Radiotherapy followed and I completed treatment just before Christmas 2015 – so a real celebration!
I already knew that I had some fantastic family and friends, and I certainly couldn’t have got through it without them. I was, and am, very humbled by all their love and support.
I was keen to get back to normal – which I have done, save for a few annoying side effects and daily hormone treatment medication. But I can’t get past the fact that it was pure luck that I found the lump and am so grateful that there was an effective treatment available.
I don’t class myself as a victim or a survivor – just fortunate that I couldn’t sleep that night in January 2015!
So now I’m keen to raise awareness amongst other women and urge them to check and keep checking their boobs – that’s why I’m on board and excited about this campaign!!