PUBLISHED ON: 1 December 2018

After spending last Christmas in chemotherapy appointments and wanting to hide herself away, Sarah explains why this year she’s determined to enjoy the festive season.

Sarah and her husband

My life took a terrifying turn

So much can change in one year. From one Christmas to the next, life can be so different.

In December 2017, my fiancé and I had not long moved into our new home. It was the biggest move yet, into the home of our dreams.

But this dream was interrupted. Four months previously I had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and by December I was well into my chemotherapy treatment. We had planned so much for Christmas 2017, but the reality was that my life took an unexpected, terrifying turn.

I didn’t allow breast cancer to control me

Last Christmas was filled with hospital appointments and chemotherapy. If I’m honest, I wanted to hide away while I attempted to get my head around what was happening to me.

I decided not to allow my circumstances to control me, so I did all I could to enjoy the festivities. I would get dressed up and put my wig on, go out for a meal with my family and friends because it made me happy. While the chemo was draining me physically and mentally, happiness was what I needed to remind me that it was all going to be OK.

Sarah at Christmas last year

I was scared to wish too much

I had another focus to get me through the tough days last year. I knew that the following December, this year, I would be walking down the aisle to marry the love of my life. On the really tough days I found even this thought hard. To be honest, I was scared to wish for it too much. I was scared that I may not get there.

Each time my mind wandered to this dark and scary place, I would remind myself of my inner strength and remember that I deserve this happiness. I am allowed to day dream; I am allowed to believe.

I’m thankful I get to enjoy Christmas this year

Fast forward one year and I am sitting in my new office, which I eventually got to decorate after chemotherapy, writing a blog about the past year and approaching 9 December, which is our wedding day.

My hair is growing back, and it’s very different to the image I had of myself on my wedding day before cancer stormed in. Although I don’t have the long locks I had imagined for years to curl and style for my big day, I have myself.

I have the person who was revealed by breast cancer, and I have a totally new perspective. Of course, I am not grateful for my breast cancer, but I am thankful. I’m thankful for this life. I’m thankful that this year I get to enjoy Christmas as a wife and thankful that this year I have my body and mind back and the chance to rebuild myself. It’s far more important to me.

Sarah is looking forward to Christmas

We all need to give ourselves time

I’m still working on the ‘new me’. Some days it all catches me out. Some days I feel like I am falling apart all over again, but we all must remember to give ourselves time and not put so much pressure on ourselves to be OK.

This is a new journey, and like all new journeys you learn along the way. Although you may get lost some days, there is always a road waiting for you to rejoin and continue, and there is certainly one you can join with the help of others like Breast Cancer Care. It’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have to do any of this alone.

This Christmas, I will be singing my very own carol, and while I had no choice in this new beginning, I have the choice in how I put my pieces back together.

If you need support over the festive season, our BECCA breast cancer app has tips to help you.