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Selfie of Claire

Being a Voice gave Claire her control back

After her diagnosis, Claire felt her choices had been taken away. But after volunteering with us and joining Breast Cancer Voices, Claire had a chance to have her say and play a part in breast cancer support.

Can you tell us about your diagnosis?

In June 2016, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. It was a total shock - I was 39 years old with no family history of breast cancer. I was treated with a lumpectomy, a sentinel node biopsy, chemo and radiotherapy. After my treatment, I started taking Tamoxifen and I’ve been taking it every day since.

Being diagnosed with breast cancer was the most terrifying thing I’ve experienced. In the first few weeks, it felt like all I could think about was cancer. I had 2 young boys and was desperately scared I wouldn’t be there to see them grow up.

Once my treatment plan was in place, it gave me something to focus on.

Why did you decide to volunteer with us?

After my nurse gave me an information pack from Breast Cancer Now, I did some research and found out about its Someone Like Me service, run by volunteers.

I’d had my unofficial Someone Like Me person - my lovely mum-in-law who’d been diagnosed when she was my age. She got what I was going through, and I could talk to her about anything. This support encouraged me to be there for others, so I became a Someone Like Me volunteer. Cancer can be an incredibly lonely experience. While no 2 experiences are identical, getting support from someone who understands makes a massive difference.

When I became a volunteer I enjoyed feeling like I was making a difference. It encouraged me to get involved in other ways, so I decided to join Breast Cancer Voices - a network of people who can help shape breast cancer work.

What interested in you in Breast Cancer Voices?

The Voices network allows people to have a say and play a part in breast cancer support. It's an empowering and positive thing to be part of.

During my treatment, I felt passive, like I didn’t have a voice. I’d always made my own decisions, but after my diagnosis, it was handed over to the surgeon and the oncologist.

The Voices network was a way to get back control. It gave me the chance to have a say and influence breast cancer support, even in a small way. It felt like an incredibly positive thing to do after the negativity of my diagnosis.

What have you got involved in since becoming a Voice?

I've got involved in some great things. The one that means the most to me was a project led by Oxford Brookes University. They were creating a digital support package for women prescribed hormone therapy, like Tamoxifen, and they wanted to talk to women who’d been through it.

They asked about my experience and what I thought about some information they’d put together for consumers about the drugs.

Through being a Someone Like Me volunteer, I know how much misinformation is out there and how hard it's to learn about the side effects. So, it felt great to be part of something that would help women make more informed decisions about their treatment.

How has being a Voice impacted you?

Being a Voice and a Someone Like Me volunteer has made me feel useful and like something positive is coming out of a pretty scary experience. I was so lucky to have the support I did during my treatment, and I’m so glad I can pay some of that back. If I can make things better by volunteering with Breast Cancer Now - even if it’s only in a small way - I’ll have played my part. Being a Voice makes me feel happy and proud.

Become a Breast Cancer Voice today

Our Breast Cancer Voices are a passionate community of people using their experiences for breast cancer research and support. If you want to hear about opportunities to get involved, you can become a Breast Cancer Voice today.

Breast Cancer Voices

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