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Despite my diagnosis being nearly 5 years ago, I still feel like it was yesterday

Esther shares how Breast Cancer Now’s services helped her reclaim her life after her diagnosis in 2013.

No one could have prepared me for hearing those three words: 'You have cancer'. The bottom of my world fell away. I really wanted my doctor to be wrong.

The nurse gave me a thick wallet full information, but it would be weeks before I could face reading any of it. I was still trying to accept and internalise my diagnosis. I’m a small-chunks thinker, and this was big-chunk stuff!

Fortunately, I have a sister who is an oncologist who was able to talk me through my options. I opted to receive treatment at a clinic an hour away, and the doctors and nurses were fantastic with me — despite my phobia of needles.

For just over 6 months, it felt like my life was one long hospital appointment. 6 sessions of chemotherapy, 15 sessions of radiotherapy and two rounds of surgery resulting in a mastectomy.

I was at a real crossroads about whether to have reconstruction or not — it was a big decision, either way. I contacted Breast Cancer Now who put me onto their Someone Like Me service, where I was able to quiz others who had been through similar experiences. Sometimes I just wanted reassurance.

I spent many an hour using the Breast Cancer Now Forum, where there are so many lovely ladies offering so much good advice. This was a great place to ask questions, discuss any breast cancer-related topic and if I wanted to moan about stuff, that was okay too!

Before I went back to work, Breast Cancer Now invited me to attend a half-day Moving Forward Course, which talked about adjusting to life after breast cancer. I was amongst a group of ladies who had been through a similar experience to me, and it was nice to chat freely and discuss our journeys in an informal but confidential way. It was very helpful for me.

Despite my diagnosis being nearly 5 years ago, I still feel like it was yesterday. The scar I have from the mastectomy is a daily reminder. But as the saying goes, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. It is certainly the case for me.

Since finishing treatment, I have devoted much of my time to fundraising as a thank-you for the treatment and care I received. I’m proud to have taken part in a number of events, including the Manchester 10k, The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, The Tower Run in Manchester, Zip Wire and a 10k walk through the beautiful grounds of Tatton Park in Cheshire. I also volunteer quite a bit, not to mention the odd cake sale at work!

For me, there is life after breast cancer. I love making the most of every day.

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