After her secondary breast cancer diagnosis, Sophie is determined to enjoy every moment, especially with her daughter, and not put off things she wants to do ‘for another day’.
A bit about me
I live in Brighton and am a single mum to my daughter Maya. We’re incredibly close and she’s been amazing throughout my breast cancer journey.
Maya has grown up with me being in and out of hospital after I suffered from massive internal complications following her birth. I was diagnosed with Ashermans Syndrome in 2008 and spent 10 years having numerous operations. I’m now basically being held together with internal scaffolding. I think going through all of that unwittingly prepared me for dealing with my breast cancer diagnosis.
Those first few weeks were the toughest time of my life
I was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer in 2021 at age 48. I had a lumpectomy and radiotherapy during lockdown. After being given the all clear, I was put on Tamoxifen.
Being a single mum, my biggest fear was my cancer returning. My daughter lives with me and we make such a strong united team. We have been through so much together. She is my world.
However, I kept having constant pain under my right ribs for months and feeling very fatigued, so I kept pushing for a scan. This led to a CT and MRI scan, and I was told I was all clear, but they decided to also give me a PET saying there were some slight concerns.
The cancer had returned; it was metastatic, and I was stage 4
On May 6 2022, whilst in the middle of painting my front door, I received a phone call with the results that the cancer had returned. It was metastatic and I was stage 4. It’s a moment that will stay with me forever. It had spread to my lungs, pelvis, liver and an abdominal lymph node. I also had a tiny new grade 1, stage 1 breast cancer growing on the skin of my lumpectomy breast.
I was absolutely devastated and in shock for the first few days. Having to tell Maya was horrendous, it just didn’t seem fair. A conversation with a friend changed my mental state a few days later. They said that “living in fear isn’t living”, this was the path I was now on, and I had to face in the best way I could. It changed how I decided to deal with it.
I then booked a last-minute trip to Paris with Maya and one of my closest friends and her daughter, where we spent 2 days laughing, eating and exploring the beautiful city. From there, we continued to have a spontaneous summer of fun. Having things to look forward to has massively helped us both.
You have to be your own advocate
After an initial very negative experience with an oncologist, I found a new one at the same hospital who was a complete contrast – far more positive about the different treatment options available and much more on my wavelength. Swapping to him helped put me in a much stronger place mentally.
The support from the cancer community is phenomenal
I’ve met so many courageous, inspiring and wonderful women since being diagnosed. The support and strength they give each other is phenomenal.
After my secondary breast cancer diagnosis, I followed Secondary Sisters on Instagram and attended some of their events in London. There wasn’t anything like that in Brighton and traveling wasn’t a viable option for everyone. So, with their guidance and support, I set up ‘Brighton and Hove Secondary Sisters’ with another lady called Helen. We now organise a monthly get together at a lovely beachfront restaurant called Rockwater Hove. Women with any secondary cancer are welcome to join us in this lovely non-clinical, accessible setting to meet, support, off-load and just enjoy life together. We’ve set up a WhatsApp group, Instagram page and even have our own special logo. We have lots of exciting plans for the future.
I embrace and love life even more than before
I know it sounds very cliched, but my diagnosis has made me more determined to enjoy every moment life has to offer, especially with my daughter. I take every day as a blessing and don’t want to put anything off for tomorrow.
My latest PET scan showed that the cancer is completely responding to my first line of treatment, and I am currently NEAD – “No evidence of active disease”, which I couldn’t be happier about. I’m incredibly grateful for the NHS and the medications helping me. I’ve always been a very positive person and I can only hope that this response works for many, many years. I want to add plenty of stamps to my passport.
Being involved with wear it pink is a light-hearted way for me to raise awareness of a fantastic campaign and give something back to Breast Cancer Now. It was a place I could turn to through my diagnoses. I took part in the Brighton 10k in 2022 for Breast Cancer Now, but as I couldn’t run this year, I went to cheer on the Breast Cancer Now marathon runners. It was wonderful to be able to support them.
I never used to wear pink, but the wear it pink campaign has inspired me to wear it now
I’d say the brighter and more outrageous the outfits for wear it pink, the better. It doesn’t matter whether you do it on your own and take some selfies, or if you get dressed up with a group of friends, family or work colleagues. Just have plenty of fun with it.