In November 2019, Laura found out she had breast cancer. This is the letter she wrote to herself exactly a year after her diagnosis.
Your world will crumble
Happy diagnosis day.
Exactly one year ago, you were told the words you never thought you would hear: ‘you have cancer’. Your whole world will crumble.
You will have spent the morning in a waiting room with women all at least 20 years older than you. You were sent for test after test, slowly realising that it wasn’t going to be good news.
You will have waited for your wonderful husband to drop everything and head straight to meet you so that you didn’t have to go through a biopsy, or hear the results, on your own.
You will be scared
You will never be able to face wearing the outfit you had on that morning. There is a perfectly lovely pair of Valentino trainers sat on a shelf that you can’t bear to put on your feet anymore (in hindsight, you should have worn a cheaper pair).
You will break down and cry. You will be more scared than you have ever felt in your life. You will look at your husband in despair as he holds you tighter than he has ever held you before, trying to stop his own tears falling.
You will wish you had gone to the doctors sooner, and that you had been checking your boobs regularly, rather than just finding the lump by chance. You’ll wonder, ‘would the prognosis have been better if I had, would I have been able to keep my boob?’ There will be so many what-ifs.
You will wonder how this happened
You are one of the healthiest people you know. You will realise cancer doesn’t discriminate.
Your fertility will be taken away from you and the chance to have another child naturally will most likely be gone. But you will start to come to terms with that and realise it could be the opportunity to do something wonderful.
You will feel so alone.
You will feel like you aren’t supposed to get cancer at 32. There is no one for you to talk to, no one who really ‘gets’ it.
Then you’ll meet others, the most amazing, inspirational people who will help you with their incredible support. They will shape your life more than you would ever have thought possible.
It gets easier
You will lose your hair. You will feel sicker than you ever imagined. Your body will change beyond all recognition. You will realise that hair grows back, the nausea will subside and the scars will heal. Your body has been through more than you ever thought it would have to.
You will need to learn to love your new body again, and that is going to take time.
You will get frustrated with yourself that you are weaker and slower than you used to be. The brain fog from the chemotherapy will be debilitating at times, but you will learn to laugh about it in time. It gets easier.
You won’t be this fragile forever. It might feel like it right now, but you are at your most vulnerable, and it will get better. You will get better.
You will be angry
At times you’ll feel despair at what has happened and how much has changed, but you’ll learn how to deal with it and accept it.
Your tears will fall easier than ever before. For someone who never cries, you will be amazed at how much more emotional you will become, and how much more you will feel.
From all this, you will learn how strong and brave you truly are, and that you can take on anything with a smile on your face.
You will feel gratitude in simple things you never noticed before
You will learn to never take anything for granted again. Every day you have feels like a gift.
That being said, you will still get frustrated by the little things that used to annoy you, and that’s ok too. You will still swear at someone for not saying thank you when you give way for them. Your cancer diagnosis isn’t a magical gateway into a completely zen existence.
You will see just how loved you are and feel so lucky to have the best family and friends you could ever have asked for. You will hold those you love so much tighter after they have stayed by your side, helped you carry your burden, and lifted you up when you needed it the most.
You are still here, fighting, one year on
Some people will surprise and disappoint you. It will hurt to see them fade into the background, but at the same time, you will see kindness and love that you have never experienced before.
You will see a good in people that restores your faith in humanity - from a stranger through Instagram sending you a gift, to regular care parcels and cooked meals hand delivered to your door by friends and family.
Even after all your treatment is done, and you are told you have ‘no evidence of the disease’, you will never be able to say those words. You won’t be able to tell people you’re all ok, because you feel like you don’t want to tempt fate.
You still have a way to go with your recovery, but you did it. You made it through. It was tough - oh so tough - the worst year of your life. But it’s done, and you can move on knowing that you have learnt so much.
You have grown and developed into a better person.
You are a superwoman.
If you want to read more about Laura and her experiences with breast cancer, make sure to check out her blog.
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