When you’re perfectly well but then find a lump… You go from ‘life’s peachy’ to ‘I’m going to die’ in about 5 seconds.
After 6 core biopsies they tell me its Stage 3 and I have two lots because it’s already spread. So now I am writing my own obituary! Mastectomy they say! No reconstruction offered unless I stay alive for a year after chemo! Omg. But get rid of both, I say. Who cares!? But then I decide I am stronger than the cancer. I decide to give it all I have. I want to live!
However, before the first operation, I can’t eat properly and lose way too much weight in 7 days… 14 pounds. I become weak with lack of nourishment so my recovery from operation is slow. On a plus point, they manage to do breast conserving surgery rather than a mastectomy 🙂 Then, I have a second operation (removal of 20 lymph nodes), three weeks later, by which time I am physically a shadow of my former self. Recovery this time around is horrific. I even have suicidal thoughts at this point.
I am just starting to feel better when I get my first chemo. We’ll skip the next four and a half months of nausea, sickness, hair loss, insomnia, ulcers, brain fog, weakness, emergency hospital admissions for infections… So then I start to feel better and they start radiotherapy…. 21 days… Easy peasy compared to chemo but as it builds, it’s like being sunburned inside and out. To say nothing of the horror of it being done by two male nurses. I am very self-conscious unfortunately.
But here I am. Two and a half years on from diagnosis, alive and happy. Happy!
So now I devote a good deal of time to helping other cancer sufferers (mainly breast cancer as that’s the cancer and treatment which I know about). I am always positive when I talk to others. I never tell them my horror story details. I focus on the good things and the outcome being good. That’s my story.
Rachel is an active participant on the Twitter Breast Cancer Support Network, @bccww. She lives in Buckinghamshire, England where she continues to spread hope and positivity with people affected by cancer all over the world.