When Gaby was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, she found comfort in Breast Cancer Now’s Forum. Even now, several years on, she still uses it to connect with others. 

Gaby, a woman with short black hair, brown eyes and glasses

Receiving the news that I had breast cancer was an awful experience 

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in August 2018. I’d had a bit of pain in my left breast for a few weeks and my cancer was picked up during a routine mammogram that luckily I’d had scheduled for some time.  

The process was emotionally very difficult. My consultant, although very experienced and a good surgeon, didn’t (and still doesn’t) have great social skills, and was pretty blunt in giving me the diagnosis. The nurse assisting him, although well-meaning, was overbearingly 'understanding' and my husband and I were just grateful when we were left alone in a small room to cry and hug.  

However, once we’d met my lovely breast care nurse, things started to improve. She provided me with concrete information and explained both the diagnosis and treatment with great clarity, patience and kindness.  

I had chemotherapy from September 2018 to February 2019. Surgery (lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy) followed in April, at which point I was given the amazing news by my medical team that there had been a complete response to the chemotherapy, that only one nymph node had been affected, and that my prognosis was excellent.  

Finally, I had 20 sessions of radiotherapy (I got five 'bonus' sessions due to it being TNBC) and that was it.  

The Forum was an invaluable support network during treatment  

One of the first things my lovely breast care nurse advised me to do was to check out the website for Breast Cancer Now. She also warned me not to google anything about my cancer: advice which I have followed to this day! 

As soon as I got home from that first hospital appointment, I went to the website and checked out all the information about cancer in general, TNBC in particular, and the various treatment forms. But most importantly of all, I found the Forum – a place where I could give voice to my fears and share my thoughts with others who were in the same position.  

I joined 'my' chemo group and later on those for surgery and radiotherapy, which provided me with vital support throughout my treatment. It was great just being able to compare notes on various side effects, and to moan with others about aches and pains and get advice on ways to alleviate them.  

But most important was the emotional support the Forum provided. 

The Forum is a place where everyone is in it together 

Of course, my family was always there for me, and they really were amazing, but the women on the Forum were going through the same awful procedures and were having the same awful thoughts. I didn’t have to worry about upsetting or worrying them, because they too were terrified. We were in this together and there was no judgement.  

During the 10 months of treatment, the Forum provided me with a vital emotional outlet and I’m sure I would not have been able to cope as well as I did with the treatment without it. 

I also contacted the nurses on the Breast Cancer Now Helpline several times, either when I was unable to get hold of my breast care team or when I just needed some reassurance or explanation from a professional.  

They were always kind and helpful, listened to my worries and were able to provide comfort and information that I trusted. 

Since treatment has finished, I’ve continued to use the Forum (and very occasionally the Helpline) both for information and as a way of letting off steam when needed.  

I’m doing a Pink Ribbon Walk to support Breast Cancer Now 

The end of treatment doesn’t mean that the emotional or physical effects disappear. 

In fact, in some ways they are amplified, as the regular check-ups and support systems disappear. I also did a Moving Forward course shortly after finishing treatment, which was helpful, but the Forum and my breast care nurses at the hospital continue to provide the most important support outside my family. 

I have been wanting to say thank you to Breast Cancer Now for the help they have given me for some time. I have given donations, but I wanted to do more. I’m no good at any sort of endurance sports, but walking is something I have always enjoyed.  

When I saw the Pink Ribbon Walk advertised, I felt that here was finally something I could manage and that would enable me to raise a decent amount of money for this charity that has helped me so much.  

I’m slightly apprehensive about the distance – 20 miles! – that I have signed up for, but I wanted a proper challenge and that’s what I’ve got.  

Rather wonderfully, my sister-in-law has signed up with me, so I also get to spend a day with her, just the two of us, which is something that doesn’t happen very often. I’m really looking forward to it. 

 

If you'd like to take part in a Pink Ribbon Walk and help raise money for people like Gaby, we'd love to have you on board.

Pink Ribbon Walks