Let me take you back to May 28th 2017.
Life was full of fun! As a family of three we worked hard, played hard and enjoyed making future plans, in particular plans that involved visiting different parts of the world. Edinburgh born and bred, I am a wife to my rock, Euan and a mummy to our only son, Cameron. Having battled health conditions, primarily endometriosis, for most of my adult life, I thought I was aware of my body and its ‘issues’ or needs. It is frightening how wrong I could be.
On May 29th that year: I am diagnosed ‘de novo’ with primary and secondary breast cancer. Life changes forever.
I had no primary breast cancer diagnosis, no lump and absolutely no knowledge of secondary breast cancer. How could I not have known this was happening in my own body? At the point of diagnosis, the cancer had already spread (‘metastasised’) to the majority of the bones within my skeleton. In January 2018 it spread further, into my brain.
Yet my story is not unique. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar tale for thousands of women and men who are diagnosed with this incurable form of breast cancer every single year.
From that moment on as a family were thrown into our ‘new normal’. A life which has, to date, put us through 12 surgeries, constant chemotherapy and stereotactic radiotherapy and has normalised terminology that we had never thought would be a part of our lives.
My life will always follow this path. At the point of writing this, my recent scans showed that my current treatment has stabilised the cancer for now.
During this journey I have met so many other women in this position tackling this disease head on. Whilst we all come from different backgrounds, we share a bond that no women ever want to share. Yet it is that bond and their determination that inspires me on a daily basis to change a negative situation in a positive - a situation that has taken and continues to take the lives of far too many people, including women who I have been honoured to call friends on a daily basis.
From the first day I sat in my hospital chair to begin a gruelling chemotherapy regime, I knew that when I felt ‘well enough’ I wanted to make a change. I wanted to raise awareness and funds to support research into secondary breast cancer. Most importantly, I wanted to ensure that people knew about the disease.
I don’t know what my disease will do. I can’t tell from day to day how I will feel but one thing I do know is that if we work together we can raise awareness of secondary breast cancer and Make 2nds Count!