PUBLISHED ON: 22 April 2021

Julia Wilkin, who is 52 and a mother of two grown-up children, was diagnosed with breast cancer just as the coronavirus pandemic hit. Her treatment affected her physically and emotionally, so she contacted Breast Cancer Now for support.

Julia, who is white and has blonde hair, poses happily with her husband and their children. Everyone is dressed smartly outside a church.

My first ever breast screening detected cancer

In January last year, I attended my first breast screening. I know how important it is to get regularly checked, but I was worried when I was called back. My husband Alan accompanied me to the consultation and I heard those words: 'It’s cancer'.

We had a brief moment alone to hug and have a little cry.

I had surgery within a week, but they then discovered the cancer had spread a little further than they thought - which meant having another operation as lockdown started. After that, my oncologist told me I would need both chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

I was worried about the effect that would have on my immune system during the pandemic, but I felt I had to go through with it.

I wanted to talk to someone who understood my struggle

Although I didn’t feel terrible to begin with, the chemotherapy gradually took its toll and near the end I hit a wall.

I had a complete meltdown and couldn’t stop crying. I felt continually exhausted and all sorts of aches and pains started to appear, which made sleep difficult. My family watched me struggle and found it very difficult to accept they couldn’t make me feel better.

One day, a colleague from work recommended Breast Cancer Now’s Moving Forward Online course. I signed up and, even before I’d watched any of the videos, I could see posts on the online Forum from other people just like me who had the same questions and anxieties.

The course is really informative and relevant, but what’s especially great is the opportunity you get to share experiences and support one another.

Breast cancer changes your life

Sometimes it's hard to express to your loved ones how tough it gets for fear of hurting them, but on the Forum you can speak frankly as everyone's been through a similar thing.

My breast care team also handed me some of Breast Cancer Now’s information booklets which I could take home, share with my family and read in my own time. And I downloaded the Becca app as it contains invaluable information and resources which are always readily to hand 24/7.

It’s not just tough being treated for cancer, it’s a life-changing experience. But Breast Cancer Now helped me and my family through it and now I’m keen to give something back and support them in any way I can. I can’t thank them enough.

 

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