The shock and fear of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 was huge but I was very lucky, as within weeks of diagnosis I had an experience which represented a real turning point for me. This was when I met a volunteer at a local cancer support centre who stunned me at first when she said having breast cancer was one of the best things that had happened to her! I was shocked but yet the same day I felt the dark cloud begin to lift. Not only did I feel more able to deal with my treatment but also felt inspired to turn my breast cancer experience into a positive one.
I also realised that the support of other women who had been through breast cancer was invaluable, and contacted the Someone Like Me service. I was matched with a volunteer who helped me cope with chemotherapy and radiotherapy through regular phone calls.
I have had invasive lobular cancer and had a mastectomy followed by lymph node clearance, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In 2014 I had latissimus dorsi reconstruction and a mastopexy. I now take tamoxifen. I won’t pretend that treatment was easy and I am grateful for the support of family, friends and specialist nurses who helped me through it.
Reconstruction is not for everyone but it has helped me to move forward. The new breast is not perfect but it is very skilfully shaped, and now when I look down I am not lop-sided or reminded so starkly of the cancer. Instead, I think of living life differently and valuing every minute.
When my treatment finished I cut down my hours at work, and trained to become a support volunteer for the Someone Like Me service. I also volunteer in a local cancer charity shop in the hope that I’m helping in a small way to fund research into treatment that will be less harsh than chemotherapy.
By volunteering for Someone Like Me I hope I can help other women cope with breast cancer and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
You can email me at email@example.com