When Jos’ secondary breast cancer was discovered by chance, she was told she might only have a year or two to live. In defiance, she has written a song about her determination, and hopes it'll bring comfort to others.

Jos, a woman with dark hair, holding white and pink balloons above her head outside and smiling

I didn’t think breast pain was associated with cancer

I was diagnosed in May 2020, during the first lockdown. I put off going to the doctors for a few weeks because I didn’t want to bother the doctor with anything unnecessary while there was so much stress around Covid. Plus, I was experiencing pain in my breast, and everything I Googled told me that pain wasn’t a symptom of cancer.

After a while, though, I realised I really should see my GP, and she got me a referral to the breast clinic within a few days.

I was so convinced it wasn’t cancer that I didn’t even tell anyone I was going for the appointment. I thought it would all be routine, and that I’d only be there for a couple of hours at the most. 

However, once I was there, things didn’t progress as I expected them to. I was there for ages, and couldn’t even text anyone because there was no signal in the clinic. At six o’clock, someone came and got me. After apologising for keeping me waiting so long, they told me I had breast cancer.

My secondaries were spotted by accident

At that point, they thought the cancer was treatable, so we made an action plan to go ahead with chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.

Then, one day in October, I came home from work feeling a bit tired. Thinking I just needed some rest, I laid down on the couch. Within a couple of hours, though, I felt as if I’d been running.

Because of my Port-a-cath, I knew I had a risk of blood clots, so I called up the hospital to let them know what was happening, and they insisted I come in. Once there, they did some tests and kept me in for an overnight stay.

While scanning the area of the port, they’d seen some discoloured areas in my spine. So, more scans followed, and I spent the next four or five days not knowing if the cancer had spread, or if I was dealing with something else entirely.

I took a friend with me to the next appointment.

The consultant took ages to give me the news. I think it’s because he was a similar age to me – he just didn’t know what to say. He explained that the secondary cancer hadn’t been visible on the original scans, but their reaction to the chemo treatment had made them much more obvious this time around.

After all that, we didn’t even get to the bottom of why I’d been breathless. I’m glad I was, though, otherwise this might never have been spotted.

My faith gives me strength, and song-writing is my therapy

When I pushed the doctor to tell me how long he thought I had left, he said maybe a year or two. I almost laughed. I felt so well – even with the chemotherapy, I’d barely been tired! So, I said, I’d see that year or two and raise him 10.

Since then, I’ve surprised myself with the inner strength that has come out in me. Naturally, I think I’m quite a pessimist, but I’ve really found a sense of fight in the last couple of years.

I genuinely think that’s down to my faith. I believe it’s God giving me this strength, holding me up, and surrounding me with people who are there for me.

My church has been a great support for me, but so has music. I’ve been singing and playing for years now, and I’ve always thought that song-writing is therapeutic.

So, around October last year, I started thinking I should write something about my own health.

I wanted to share my song, but I wasn’t sure how

Not long after, I ended up speaking to a young woman, Rosie Smith, who was the supporting act for a band I was seeing, and – after telling her I was thinking of writing a song – she encouraged me to set up an Instagram account. Once I’d done that, I saw something on there about Abbey Road celebrating their 90th anniversary.

I applied for tickets, but thought there was no way I’d get one... but I did! At that moment, I made a deal with God: if I could sit in the front row of the studio and they allowed questions, I’d ask about what I should do with this song I’d been writing.

So, after finding myself in the front row with this amazing panel of songwriters, I explained my situation and asked what to do.

Afterwards, all these people came up to me saying they wanted to help. It was amazing, but I was so flustered! One woman in particular, Mariela, told me that, five years ago, she’d only been given three to six months to live. She put me in touch with her boyfriend, Liam, and said I had to send him my song.

I hope my story can inspire others

Liam told me he wanted to record the song in London – but he wouldn’t give me the exact address. His girlfriend picked me up in an Uber and I had to close my eyes as we drove there! When I opened them, we were at Abbey Road Studios.

A few people had showed up to play instruments and help on the track. It was incredible.

And that’s how I ended up recording my song. It’s about defiance, of not giving up. It’s about my story, but I also want it to give other people hope.

 

You can listen to several of Jos' songs here on her Linktree.

 

Signs and symptoms to be aware of after primary breast cancer

Signs and symptoms