In 2014, I was on cloud nine. My son was born in the September and we could not have been happier.
Shortly after I discovered I was pregnant, I found a small pea sized lump in my right breast. I put this down to hormone changes due to the pregnancy and to be honest, this drifted far from my mind as my pregnancy developed. We really struggled with breast feeding and in the end, I admitted defeat. In the following months, I noticed a lump forming in my breast and by December, said lump was the size of a walnut. I was worried sick and vividly remember one occasion staying up all night googling breast cancer and diagnosed myself there and then. I knew. I think deep down I had always known something was not quite right.
Four months after the birth of my son I was diagnosed with DCIS (stage 0 breast cancer). We were in shock, naturally being a first time mum, no family history and only 28 at the time but grateful that it was early stages. Due to its extent (13cm) I was told that a mastectomy was needed. It was ridiculously hard but i kept my head down and I got through it knowing it would be over after surgery and I could regain some sort of normality.
Unfortunately, it was found that within the DCIS, I had multifocal tumours and would subsequently need chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment for life. I was devastated. I remember looking at my husband, who was sweating and I thought about to pass out, and thinking my hair. My beautiful hair.
But I was strong. For everyone else and my beautiful new baby. I pushed through 6 rounds of chemo and 15 rounds of radiotherapy. As far as we were concerned, it was done. Yes I would still need hormone treatment for life, but I had fought cancer and won.
Then in February 2017 (nearly two years to the day) through an annual routine MRI, we were told that there was a strong possibility I had developed secondaries in my liver. Stunned as I was asymptomatic, I felt like our world had been smashed apart all over again. We knew something was wrong the minute we saw the Breast Care Nurse in the waiting room. Not us, we thought. Not for us.
After more probing and scans, it was diagnosed that I had liver and bone mets. Being the teacher I am, I researched, read case studies and looked at statistics. It was terrifying; never Google "stage 4 cancer". Then I stopped. I decided early on that there is only one of me and that I wasn’t going to be yet another statistic. This is my life cancer, you’re living with me and not the other way around!
So, with the loving support of family and friends, I pushed through another 24 sessions of chemotherapy and am now starting to piece it all back together, yet again.
We now have found a new normal and try to live each day to its fullest.
I still work, spend quality time with my son and get annoyed about trivial things like my husband not putting the washing up away. Because that is what life is and I intend to live it as a person, not a patient.