Monday, 26 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: Elizabeth Hurley saved my life

Author: Jacy T

Despite the kids now being at school I was always busy, always rushing around. It was only when I found myself getting tired in the day for some reason that I started to sit and eat lunch while watching the news. Fortunately one day Liz Hurley happened to be there. She was talking about breast cancer and how she paid for regular mammograms as her grandmother had died of the disease. Rather unkindly I did think, ‘well we all have to go of something don’t we?’ and ‘aren’t you lucky you can afford to buy mammograms for your friends as presents?’ Even so, it struck a chord with me somewhere. Having suffered a bereavement, two miscarriages and major shoulder surgery I was feeling uncharacteristically pessimistic – nothing would surprise me anymore…

I checked my boobs for the first time ever that night and found nothing, phew! However, the following month I found a lump. It didn’t concern me. I had just looked after my friend’s children while she had a biopsy on what transpired to be a cyst and if my lump wasn’t there the month before, it couldn’t be anything else, could it?

Convinced that everything would be fine I went to the breast clinic myself. During my ultrasound I tried to engage the friendly but slightly officious radiologist in some conversation, until she suddenly fell silent. “I’m sorry” she said “But that’s not a cyst”. “What is it then?” I asked. “I’m not sure, but it’s definitely not a cyst”. I’m not sure what frightened me the most – her words or that her demeanor changed so much. Suddenly she was kind, softly spoken, perhaps even a little pitying. “Oh my God,’ I thought “I’m f****d”.

Now, 9 months on and post treatment I look back at finding the lump as a pivotal moment in my life - but not necessarily one of the worst.

Just to clarify – I am not grateful for my disease, I have not discovered God, marathons, triathlons (or anything else with a ‘thon’ in it). I resent the time I wasted feeling like crap and the toll it has taken on both my family and me. It may give me a push to get on and do the things I’ve spent a lifetime promising to do but it has not made me love my children more or led to a greater appreciation of life (although my husband may have changed in this regard!).

No, it was not the worst day of my life simply because I DID find it. NOT discovering it would have been so much worse.

I ‘got away’ with a lumpectomy and my sentinel lymph node was clear. In breast cancer terms that’s about as good as it gets. There may be steps we can take to reduce the risk of getting this awful disease (I’m certainly not perfect) but there are too many healthy eating, non-smoking, tee-totalers with breast cancer for any of us to EVER be complacent.

Girls (and boys) STAY VIGILANT, STAY STRONG and thanks Liz!

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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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