Monday, 26 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: Adversity to solidarity

Author: Sam R

Sam writes at

In December 2005 I was diagnosed with hormone receptive grade 3 breast cancer in my left breast. It had spread to my lymph glands so I had two operations and then chemo and radio. I was 27.

It was a tough time but I had the most amazing support network around me and I did what I could do to distract myself when possible and worked part time. Having to press that major pause button on my young life was very frustrating but I got through it and reached the end of my remission.

Having just got married in 2009, by some miracle, we fell pregnant. I couldn't believe it and we had a baby girl in October 2010. Eighteen months later, in June 2012, I was diagnosed with a secondary in my clavicle and two spots showed up on the PET scan on my sternum. It was a bit of an M15 investigation as it was over the summer but we eventually decided to operate on the lump we could feel and I then had two months of radio.

Learning how to cope with that and a small child as well as moving house on the day of my results was a challenging time, but again, friends and family played a massive role and I feel so blessed to have had them.

I became very aware of helping my wellbeing at this point, dealing with the idea of reoccurrence was very scary and I realised how important it was to be pro active about my emotional, physical and mental health. After the last 6 years of trying lots of different things out, I threw myself into this and started blogging about being a younger patient with BC and the far reaching affects of this. I wanted to offer some solidarity to others that had been through this because I had felt a gap in the amount of patients, my age, when I was going through it.

My Samspace blog started going down really well and then, to my dismay I was diagnosed again in February 2014, this time with a primary in my right breast. I opted for a double mastectomy and a reconstruction and turned my attention to reviewing all the practical things we can do to help our wellbeing after a cancer diagnosis. There is so much information out there that it can be so over whelming for someone who might be facing returning to life after treatment and I wanted to reach out to them and act as a link in the chain to their recovery journey and be a signpost to other professionals who could help them. It has been a long road and my healing and recovery continue but linking with other people affected helps create such a supportive community that we can all offer something inspiring and unique to.

I will be celebrating the ten year anniversary of my first diagnosis this December. I can hardly believe it but despite being tough, it has made me who I am and if I can offer something positive to others going through it, thats enough xxx

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