Monday, 5 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: Cancer car crash

Author: Emma

I'm 16 months on from my initial secondary breast cancer diagnosis and as I sit here, pondering over what to write, I can't help but look back at my life since cancer and think what a car crash it has been. 

In the months leading up to my illness I was happy. I'd found a lump at the end of 2013 but had it checked and got the all clear. We really enjoyed that Christmas!! 

My life was going in the right direction. My partner of 3 years and I had got engaged, we'd talked about having a baby - a brother or sister for my brood of three from a previous relationship. He is in the army and was deployed to Afghanistan at the end of January 2014. He was on a 6 month tour.

I found another lump, underneath the original one, and went back to the breast clinic at the end of April to get it checked. I didn't think anymore of it. 

Then on the 2nd of May I was rushed into hospital. I'd started haemorrhaging at home.
It was a Friday morning and I was getting the children ready for school. I have never been so scared. I thought I was dying. I called an ambulance and my mum and that was the start of 3 weeks in hospital. Later that evening I was told I had breast cancer. WTF!! 

I had numerous CT and MRI scans over the weekend. I was still bleeding heavily and losing clots the size of mini footballs. I was alone and scared. I missed the kids. Then, out of the blue on the Monday, my partner walked in. He'd been flown home on special licence. I instantly felt safe. He was allowed to stay at the hospital with me - we had a private room. I had lots of visitors and the staff at the hospital became great friends. 

Then we received another blow on the Wednesday. I was told the cancer had broken away and got into my bones. I had secondary breast cancer. The kind you can't get rid of. The kind that people call terminal. I'm not sure where it came from but I found an inner strength and I was ready for the fight. I was not, in any circumstances, leaving my children or my loved ones any time soon. 

My partner and I set about planning our wedding. We arranged everything from our hospital room and got married 11 weeks later in Windsor. It was the best day off my life.
While in hospital I had 12 blood transfusions and 3 platelet ones. The reason I was bleeding so heavily is because the cancer was attacking my platelets - they're what make the blood clot. 

I was discharged after 3 weeks and started chemo just a week later. I had 18 weekly sessions and ended up back in hospital twice due to complications. 

I lost my hair, my eyebrows and my eyelashes. 

I also lost my new husband. 

My diagnosis proved too much for him. I was holding all this shit together, trying to be as normal as possible for the children but I wasn't getting any support from him. He went out for hours in the evenings while I was laid up on the sofa having just had chemo. He either withdrew into himself or was angry at the world. He took the not being able to have children together really badly. He said some nasty things. I had no more to give so I decided to end the marriage. I was doing everything for myself and the kids anyway and as horrible as it sounds, it was like having one less child to deal with. 

So that's why I refer to the past 16 months as a car crash. I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer at the age of 35. It stole my chances of being a mum again. It completely trashed my marriage. And still now, it feels like I'm walking through the wreckage. My 16 year old daughter sees what cancer is doing to me - the days I'm shattered and can't walk up the stairs. I try to hide everything from her but she's not stupid. I get in the shower just to have a good cry. She has struggled recently with her mood and has had some counselling to try and help. I feel guilty that our lives have turned into this nightmare. I'd give anything to be normal again. 

By Emma x

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Write for the blog! This blog is one of a series being shared on the Young Women's Breast Cancer Blog UK during October, breast cancer awareness month, but the blog is here year round. If you are a young woman in the UK who has/had a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to be a part of this blog, please have a read of the additional information here.

Check your breasts
Breast cancer can happen to any of us - regardless of age. Information about how to check your breasts can be found on the Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now websites.

Further information and support:
Younger Breast Cancer Network UK - an online chat and support group for women under the age of 45 in the UK who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.
Baldly Beautiful - a YouTube channel with make up demonstrations, created by Mac makeup artist Andrea Pellegrini who went through chemo herself in 2014.
Take A Moment - This is a group for women (all ages) who have/had breast cancer who want to explore, reflect on and express their feelings and experiences through photography. This is a link to the public page - to join the group, send them a message.
The Osborne Trust - Providing children of parents with cancer the opportunity to access time out recreational activities whilst their parents undergo operations and treatments
Jen's Friends - Free heart-shaped pillows for women (and men) with Breast Cancer. Designed to provide comfort and protection after a Mastectomy operation.
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