In 2003 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Up to that point all was well, my family were grown and all out working and I had given up work to provide full time care for my 92 year old mother, who had come to live with us 2 years earlier.
There were some difficulties of course but all in all it was a good time with many happy days spent with my mum and even better evenings when the family were home and we played cards with her or helped her to make a jigsaw.Lots of fun and laughter, life was good.
One morning I noticed a change in my breast. A thickening in the tissue and a swelling underneath and thought ” I’d better have this checked out “. I wasn’t over worried as I had found lumps before and they were all benign. I had no reason to think this would be any different.
I made my appointment in St James’s Hospital, had all the usual tests and met with the Consultant. He thought that everything looked OK but said that there would be a conference the following Tuesday when all results would be examined more thoroughly. On the Wednesday morning I received a call from the breast nurse asking me to come in for a core biopsy the following day. Again I thought, just routine and all will be well.
However, a week later I received another call suggesting I meet with the consultant the next day and maybe bring my husband along. I prepared myself for bad news! Needless to say I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
We met with the Doctor the next morning. He told me they had found cancer, the tumor was close to the chest wall so I would need to have a mastectomy and probably chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I thought I was prepared for the news but when you are told you have cancer it shakes you to the core. I didn’t know what to think. Did this mean I was going to die, and if so when? How will my family cope with this and what will happen to my mother now? The plan had always been that I would look after her for the rest of her days. I remember the doctor saying ” today will be your worst day ” . I didn’t know what he meant at the time, but he was right because as soon as the diagnosis was made the support kicked in. The doctors ,nurses, breast care team were all amazing. My GP, family, friends and neighbours were all there to help and support me in every way possible. The hardest part was to watch my mother go off in an ambulance to respite care until other arrangements could be made for her. It was heart breaking.
I had my surgery the following Friday. The care and attention I recieved was second to none. I could never praise or thank the staff in St James’s Hospital enough. They were wonderful. Six weeks later I started three months of chemotherapy followed by six weeks of radiotherapy. There were good days and bad days but during this time I found a strenght and courage I didnt realise I had. I managed to stay positive throughout.
For anyone out there who has just been diagnosed my message is this,
I know your scared but remember , the treatments and the medication are getting better all the time. More people are surviving cancer now than ever before.
Trust your medical team, they will support you all the way.
Dig deep and you’ll find you do have the strength to get through this.
Surround yourself with positive people, avoid the negitive ones.
Talk about your cancer but not all the time.
Accept help when it is offered.
God Bless you all,