Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: The truth. And it hurts.

Author: Joanne L

I've thought long & hard about 'blogging' having read so many over the last 5 (yes 5!) years. I suppose I'm a bit of what you call 'sit back & read, rather than post' type of girl. But then things change. I was 38 when I was diagnosed with grade 3 (primary), invasive, triple negative breast cancer. A bolt from the blue you might say. A tiny lump found on the morning of our first day back in the UK following a great 2 weeks in France. 2 weeks later and bam!, there you go, your life changes forever! September the 16th we sat in the consultant's teeny room stunned into silence. You don't really take any of it in and to be honest I still don't. Good job I had my rock (P as he shall be called) beside me. One word of advice here? Take a pen and paper to ALL appointments and write your questions down beforehand!! And DON'T GOOGLE!!

I too started my treatment (2 x ops, 6 chemo, 20 radio in all) in the 'pink' month that is 'breast cancer awareness' month. A month that my parents decided to buy me anything remotely connected to it. Yeah thanks for that! Plus books, loads of books that touched on the subject (still unread, most of them) in any way shape or form.

It's tough, really tough going through it, I won't lie but you just get on with it. Because you have to. And don't call me brave. I'm not. I just did it. The alternative just isn't an option.
My biggest problem (and it still is) is the afterwards. The bit where they wave you off with a leaflet after your last radiotherapy session with a smile on their faces. What now? What do I do? Who do I cling on to? P? My parents? Friends that really have kept their distance as they never really know what to say? Plus my mum was, as we found out later, dealing with the rather cr*ppy side of leukaemia.

I luckily found the Younger Breast Cancer Network UK, plus my local hospital's cancer support centre which I stumbled into a crying, mess, too screwed up to even talk properly! And they've been brilliant so I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I'm writing this from a campsite in beautiful France as I come up to my 5 year 'cancerversary'. I feel content, happy(ish) with my lot but I can't help feeling somewhat scared. You see, it never really goes away. Does it?

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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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