Hello my name is Zena I was diagnosed in July 2018 with grade 2 HER2 positive breast cancer following a routine mammogram. This started a journey I thought would never happen to me !

My world turned upside down literally overnight. Life takes on a different perspective and the everyday things you worry about become insignificant; this thing just totally consumes your world. Physically I am now better but mentally what I have been through will never leave me.

In July 2018 I attended my routine mammogram, a week later received a letter to say I needed to return to the clinic.  Following repeat mammograms, ultrasound, and biopsy I was informed that yes this was breast cancer. I walked out of the clinic with my husband by my side feeling numb but didn’t actually cry until I got back to work and told my colleagues, somehow saying it out loud seemed to make it real. My world had just been rocked off its axis.

Treatment started with an operation – a lumpectomy and sentinel node removal. This took place in early September then followed lots of appointments at which time I was informed of the HER 2 positive status which indicated I should have chemotherapy and treatment for the HER2 which would take 12 months to complete! 

I was given the choice, with lots of statistics, whether to go ahead with chemo or not, and after much deliberation and sleepless nights I made the decision to not have the chemotherapy and Herceptin treatment. I finally had radiotherapy over the Christmas period into the new year and felt I was getting to grips with what had happened and could now recover and get back on with life.

Long story short, work wasn’t the best during this period so I ended up taking time out and re-assessed what I wanted to do and after a couple of months started a job as a Doctors receptionist part-time and really enjoyed dealing with people face to face and the busyness helped me get back on an even keel and a world away from the Bookkeeping job that I had done for many years!

During early 2019 following the end of treatment, I felt I needed to set myself a challenge to get myself back to some level of fitness and shift a lot of weight I had gained sitting around watching Netflix and eating chocolate and shutting myself away from everyone.  One Sunday morning it came up on my Facebook page about the Great North Run (half-marathon). I said to my husband “should I enter? Would I be able to do this?” Before I knew it I had signed up! It was the best thing I could have done. It completely focused me mentally and physically – taking part in this I can safely say was the most amazing experience I have ever taken part in.

Life will never be the same as this ‘thing’ just hangs over you and there’s always the thought of will it come back? Every odd little pain or twinge that isn’t normal makes you think ‘what if’ but I believe feeling positive, doing the best for your body that you can – eating healthy, exercise and taking time for ‘you’ is very important.

Ladies, I can’t stress how important it is to attend any screening you are invited to. We are so lucky in this country to have these services offered to us for free! If I hadn’t attended when invited the consultant told me it would have been a completely different story three years down the line! I had no idea there was anything wrong. Make sure you check those boobs!!

Life is precious, enjoy every day, take time to get out in the fresh air, take deep breaths, look at the sky, the trees and the world around you fully appreciate every day.