In August 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The three months following that diagnosis have been a bit of a blur… At the beginning of August life was normal, a holiday to look forward to with Mia, Matt and Jack, a new home to nest in and decorate… Life was good… and a flippant remark when registering with a new GP turned life up side down, resulted in two surgeries, countless hospital appointments, complications and in two days time I start the first cycle of chemotherapy, all from one sentence, one you never think you’ll hear, you read about this happening to other people, not you… Right?
‘I’m really sorry, you have Breast Cancer’.
In the UK 1 in 3 people will be touched by cancer, 1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer… I just never thought I’d be one of them, not at 40 years old! And those who know me will know that I’ve already had what I considered to be the one big shock illness in life, needing a dual chamber pacemaker implanted in Dec 2012, because of a rare heart disorder! Hard to believe that less than two years later I’m putting loved ones and friends through another shock diagnosis!
What has struck me most since the discovery of a ‘lump’, is the speed at which I have been treated. The staff at RUH Bath have been amazing! My surgeon has been quick, decisive, positive, inspired confidence… My breast care nurse, a hug in human form, compassionate and sensitive… All the teams I’ve encountered on my cancer journey so far, the theatre teams, anaesthetists, the ward nurses, pacemaker techs, cardiology, oncology, all quick to react, busy in the background making sure things go to plan, without hitches. We couldn’t predict the second surgery, owing to a lack of clear margin, but again action swiftly taken…
It’s been tough, I won’t lie to you, I’ve been as scared as I have been strong in the last three months. I’ve lost several centimetres of my left breast, had the nipple removed and had my tumours regraded as the most aggressive form of Breast Cancer… Yet right now, even though I’ve had surgeries, I don’t feel ill, almost feel embarrassed when people ask how I am, because externally I don’t look different to any other woman. But I’m still at the beginning of my journey, 7th Nov sees the start of chemo every three weeks, taking me through to March, a short break before radiotherapy everyday for 4 weeks, more breast surgery, a possible pacemaker replacement as it’s likely to be fried from the treatment.. Months of support ahead of me from all the teams at Royal United Hospital, all aiming to make my treatment as easy as possible in the circumstances…
There is no dedicated cancer unit at RUH. I had breast surgery and was sent to recover on a hip replacement ward with women (and men!) mostly 70 plus… And this brings me to the Forever Friends Appeal. RUH are building a new state of the art cancer unit aimed at delivering a holistic approach to cancer and giving control to the patient. RUH need to raise £8.5m of the c£23.5m needed to build this unit…
I will start to see my hair thin after my first chemo cycle, the second will bring about most of my hair falling out.., and this is the point I want to take control of my cancer and face it on my terms. I don’t want to face chemo or cancer, or any part of the journey I face over the next year, without feeling I am in control of what happens… That I’m fighting and beating cancer!
I’m not letting chemo take my hair, I’m making it count, making the decision to shave my hair off on 11th Nov for charity, before cancer takes it away from me, to raise money for a worthy cause. I won’t benefit from the new cancer unit at Bath, it won’t be completed until after my treatment ends but I want my hair loss to be a positive thing! I’m making a bald statement and standing up to breast cancer!!
Chemo represents the hardest part of breast cancer for me, the part where I start to look less like me and more like a cancer sufferer, the day where I can’t hide what I’m going through. So I was hoping you’ll help turn this into a positive experience for me and help benefit others who will need RUH’s help, like me, to beat cancer.
I can’t get through the next few months alone, without the support of my family, friends and the staff at RUH treating me… And I don’t often ask for help and realise that times are tough for us all financially, but I’m hoping you will all help support me in raising money, as much as you can afford to give…
Thanks for your help and generosity in advance!!