Location: Kent, UK
Diagnosis: Breast Cancer (Stage 4)
I was diagnosed with stage 4 HER2+ breast cancer in November 2018.
When I first found the lump, all of the doctors I spoke to said it was nothing to worry about. I was breastfeeding at the time and they assumed it had something to do with my hormones. They were in no rush to get me checked over and I wasn't worried because no one else seemed to be.
It wasn't until around 2 months after I raised my initial concerns that I eventually received my diagnosis. My daughter was only 6 months old at the time. I thought my world was falling apart and I feared for the future – all of a sudden it was uncertain as to whether I would be around to see her grow up.
I spent around 2-3 days in blind grief, mourning my old life, now terrified that my life would be cut short. Those few days passed and I started to pick myself up. I was actually excited about starting treatment. The way I saw it, the sooner I started, the better my chances were of surviving. I couldn't change my diagnosis so I started trying to get my head around living with cancer.
I shaved my head for charity before it even started falling out as a way to take control and embrace the inevitable.
I signed up to Cancer Research's 10k 'Race For Life' and even invited the Cancer Research UK team into my home to film myself, my family and to talk about my reasons for taking part in the race.
I adopted a plant-based diet and started to see a holistic therapist. I started going for daily walks and looking into yoga and meditation in order to de-stress and relax my body.
As it turns out, cancer forced me into making the healthier life choices and positive changes I needed to make. Since finishing chemotherapy I'm able to do more of the things I did before and I feel more in control. I've recently had more scans which have shown the breast cancer is completely clear and the cancer on my liver continues to shrink. I can only ever be grateful to my body and the treatments I'm having for that. I know the treatments won't work forever and eventually the cancer will spread, but for now I intend to continue living a healthy lifestyle and embracing more positive opportunities coming my way.
One piece of advice:
It's the most terrifying news you will ever hear, but it does get better. The road ahead is going to be long and it isn't easy, but you will get through it. People will tell you that you're brave and inspirational – and that's so kind of them – but really, you're only doing what anyone in this position would do; to keep going and never give up.
There is so much support out there for anyone diagnosed with cancer. Don't be afraid to take the help when it comes and remember to keep talking. There are so many thoughts and feelings you go through after a diagnosis. Voice them to the people closest to you; your doctors, specialist nurses, Macmillan, help forums or even on social media. Whatever helps you to get through this time, embrace it.
You are not alone.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Brave Collective. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information.