16th December 2020 How I Thrive
My name is Ellie Frullini. I’m a 44 years young Mum, of a SpiderMan obsessed 4 year old boy and wife to a Hero of a Hubster! We live in leafy West Sussex & I work part-time managing a busy call centre in the Travel Industry, a job which I love. (Clear off Covid so I can get back to it!!) I was diagnosed with an aggressive, stage 3 Primary breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 31.
To say it was a shock is a huge understatement. But despite the life changing revelation, gruelling surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and all the savage side effects & emotional impact that comes with it (if you know, you know!)... I totally kicked Cancers arse! The amazing NHS provided the Rolls Royce of treatments & my mind set was positive all the way. I went into remission and lived a slightly altered (altered as in: once you’ve had cancer, life will never quite be the same again) but wonderful & importantly cancer-free life, for 11 years.
In August 2018 and a week before my wedding, I was told my cancer had returned and was now a Secondary cancer, taking up residency in my bones. I’d been experiencing rib pain ( I thought it was where I’d wobbled off a stool after a few Prosecco’s!) and it was made clear that there was no curing it. I’d kept it secret up until that point, not wanting to bring the upset to my loved ones and friends or impact what was supposed to be the ‘best day of my life’. So I just told Joe, my Husband to be.
You can’t sugar coat this moment in someone’s life, it was an utterly devastating diagnosis for us both and having already had cancer, I had first hand knowledge of what was to come and sadly the full understanding that this time, it wouldn’t be going away. That said... and cliche as it sounds, we did actually have the ‘best day of our lives’ a week later on our wedding day!! And since those 2 and a bit years ago, I have most definitely been surviving and thriving and living life as I always had, to the very max! We’ve honeymooned in Lake Como, had some fabulous holidays with our son, weekend city breaks to Amsterdam & Vienna, I’m still loving my job & lucky enough to feel fit & able to do so. We’ve re-designed and landscaped our garden, (we had some awesome summer hot tub parties!) decorated the house, (ongoing!) enjoyed weekends away and nights out ‘uptown’ in London, partied at various gigs and festivals, eaten at some top notch restaurants, enjoyed trips to the Theatre, cocktails on the beach in Brighton and despite the recent Covid Lockdowns, we’re still planning, dreaming and making the most of the moments that count! Sounds pretty alright doesn’t it?! And that’s not by any means an attempt to glam over or be in denial of the shit show circumstances I find myself in, I just refuse to live with my glass half full & prefer it overflowing!!
I don’t like to start my sentences with ‘Cancer has made me realise...’ as I decided to refuse to credit this awful disease with giving me anything, when in fact it’s done nothing but take, and it takes the worst thing imaginable, my precious time. I was well aware before my cancer about the magic of life & to do the things that bring me joy, cancer hasn’t ‘taught’ me that. However, my circumstances have made me completely prioritise my life list. I practice more at letting go of the things that stress me, say no to the things that waste my time and yes to the things that bring me happiness, laughter & create memories! I cry rivers when I need to, I scream and shout and say ‘why me’ but I quickly get over it & bounce back with a stronger zest for life. Cancer can’t & won’t keep me down for long. Since having Secondary Breast Cancer, I’ve found a wonderful community through Instagram, of others with the same Secondary/ Advanced/ Metastatic (all means the same!) disease - Breast, Lung, Ovarian, Bowel, sadly the list is never ending and it feels like the community is constantly growing.
Through this platform and the charity Make 2nds Count, It’s highlighted to me, an acute awareness of the dire lack of funding and research allocated to Secondary Breast Cancer from Breast Cancer charities, yet it’s the Stage of Cancer that does the most damage - that damage being death, which comes way to early. It’s time to eradicate this disease and put the funding and research into the Stage of cancer that could make that a reality. I’ve learnt the right charities to donate to, where the funding goes directly to Stage 4 and the important research is done at this stage. For anyone affected by this disease, either yourself, family, friends, (sadly so many) I urge you to give to the charities that go directly to the root of the problem and research the Stage of Cancer that does the most and unfortunately at the moment, irreversible damage.
Recently in August 2020, my cancer progressed from my bones to my liver. (No, it’s not Gin related!) it was kind of like being diagnosed all over again, a shock, unexpected whilst at the same time, you know it will happen at some point having a Secondary diagnosis, but it’s never easy to deal with. It’s taken some time to adjust and I find myself back where I was at 31, on a slightly enhanced version of the same drug I had all those years ago, the hardcore stuff. I focus on the fact that it wiped my cancer out last time and am hopeful it will be doing exactly the same again! In the meantime, I keep keeping on as we all do! I feel positive and optimistic & I won’t let this hurdle get in my way! I’m looking forward to more adventures and fun times in 2021, let’s hope that happens for all of us!! Ellie xx