Annie tells us about her journey after being diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 and how she met her husband, Sam, along the way. In her own words, it was a mission for 'love and remission'.
Please note, these are Annie’s personal views and treatment choices and every woman’s experience of diagnosis and treatment is different.
“What’s a mastectomy?” I cried through streams of tears to the surgeon. As I sat down after being told I had grade 3 breast cancer at 25 years old, and with that a 30% chance of survival, my life felt like it was over before it even begun. Reality hit as I was told about the advised treatment plan over the next 18 months, which would be gruelling and scary.
With my mum and then best friend Karen by my side for all my treatments – chemo, radio, Herceptin, fertility treatment – I began to panic.
Why did this happen to me? At 25? I overused sunbeds, didn’t get enough sleep, worked too hard, and partied every weekend. I decided it was my fault. I wanted to grab hold of this nightmare and gain some sort of control and that’s when I set up my internet dating profile.
I lied. A lot. I hid behind my laptop on my bed without my wig on, spontaneously vomiting as I typed messages about an exciting made-up life. Covering up the fact that I had cancer. I just wanted to be like every other young single woman living in London... And then I met Sam.
On our first date, I told him I had breast cancer. It didn’t put him off. As our relationship grew so did my aspirations – I wanted marriage, I wanted children and I looked forward to my first haircut after my hair grew back. I craved my breasts back, so I decided to have my reconstruction surgery before my wedding. Most of all I was desperate to be free of the cancer. I tried to remain positive, but openly had regular meltdowns, at home, at work and on my own.
After I had finished my treatment I was given the sentence I only dreamed of, “The cancer’s gone.” I was elated – so happy and so grateful the physical pain was over. “It will change you,” one of the amazing nurses had said to me at my diagnosis. And it has.
Before I met Sam I never wanted children. I have just had my second baby, surprisingly and against the odds, without the need for IVF. I’m an over protective, hands on mother who insists on bringing them up myself at home. But all this has made me less selfish than I was before I was ill. The mental pain is still there. But through years of ongoing psychotherapy, support from family and friends, and a wonderful NHS service, I remain positive, always. I believed I could and I did.
If you'd like more information about breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, please visit our About breast cancer section.