Losing a breast to promote the best clinical outcome is devastating for any woman diagnosed with breast cancer.
Looking at pictures of mastectomies was a surreal experience for Meryl realising that in a few weeks her own body was about to change significantly.
“My story begins in January 2018, the 23rd to be precise. I'd found a lump in my left breast whilst in the shower.
I immediately made an appointment with my GP who I've known forever. He told me he'd refer me under the 2 week wait and offered reassurance that it was probably nothing to worry about. I knew instinctively he was wrong.
2 weeks later, 6th February, my husband and I are sat in The Nightingale Centre. After an examination, I had a mammogram, then a more
detailed mammogram and an ultrasound scan. A biopsy then followed (actually 6 biopsies)
I was called back in to see the consultant, Mr Harvey. This is when he told me to prepare myself for a breast cancer diagnosis.
This was confirmed at my second appointment, just six days later. Those six days were probably the longest of my life.
I was told there and then that I had to have a mastectomy. At that point, I just wanted it gone.
I was invited back to The Nightingale by my very lovely Breast Care Nurse to view some photographs of mastectomy surgeries and to
show me breast prostheses.
It was a very surreal experience to think that in a few weeks, that would be me.
My surgery was scheduled for March 14th at Wythenshawe Hospital. The feeling
of going in with 2 breasts and knowing I'd be leaving with just one was heartbreaking.
I'd cried buckets of tears over the previous few weeks and today was no exception.
Fast forward to the 26th March, results day. It was not good. I was told my tumour was 9cm, lobular (hence why it was so difficult to detect on the mammograms) and cancer was found in the sentinel nodes. So, chemotherapy it was. I sort of knew that was coming!
So, off to The Christie we go.
My first EC-T chemotherapy was on 23rd April.
I was given a large bag of assorted medications, steroids, anti sickness tablets etc to bring home.
It didn't take long for side effects to start.
It was on day 14 that my hair started falling out, so my husband used his clippers and after many tears, I had a crew cut!
And so it began, every 3 weeks. I didn't fare very well with chemotherapy and had to be admitted to The Christie on 5 occasions. I think I had every side effect known to womankind!
Another operation in September to remove all my lymph nodes was the next step along the treatment path.
Radiotherapy started in November. This meant visiting The Christie every day for 3 weeks (weekends off!) This in itself is tiring plus radiotherapy can cause fatigue and tiredness.
Looking back over the 10 months of treatment, I often think, was that me? It was the hardest time of not just my life, but for my husband and daughter also (plus all my family and friends!) They are amazing!
So, that's enough about me.
I'm delighted to be one of 100 women taking part in Breastfest Manchester, an innovative breast awareness campaign. There are some exciting things planned, so watch this space” xxx