On the morning of the 11th December 2011, the day after I had celebrated my 53rd birthday with my family, I was drying myself having showered before going to work and suddenly found a rather sizeable lump in my right boob, my initial thought was “how had I never noticed it before”. It was hard and quite large and really not difficult to miss. But the problem is I had never bothered to look for anything, it was before all the recent knowledge and attention that now highlights the importance of checking ourselves.
I thought I was fit, I was going to the gym and leading a busy life juggling work and being a single parent after a recent marriage break down which is why I had maybe neglected to notice anything was wrong.
So that same morning after my birthday I went straight to the doctors and had a very hasty hospital appointment soon after. Breast cancer grade 3 her2 + was quite quickly diagnosed after a biopsy and in the New Year, I had a mastectomy. On referral to oncology and lots of scans later, a PET scan showed that the cancer had travelled beyond my boob to my left hip, spine, collar bone and liver.
With hindsight, which, as they say, is a wonderful thing, the writing was already on the wall. I had had a pain in my left hip for a while which was quite painful when walking but I ignored it and put it down to getting older.
I could drive myself mad trying to think when did it start, why didn’t I check myself, what did I do that caused this but I accept now it is what it is and nine years on and nine grandchildren later I have learnt to count my blessings and try to live the best life I can.
The treatment is ongoing and will not cure my cancer but with every year that passes they are developing new ways to hold back metastatic cancers giving patients a good chance to live well and longer after diagnosis.
f you have been diagnosed with secondary breast cancer then please do reach out to our secondary cancer support group on Facebook.