Breast Cancer Awareness Month - My Story
Today marks the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and one of the ways we can all help support this important month is by spreading awareness and sharing personal stories.
Breast Cancer tore my world apart in November 2004 when my Mum returned from a trip to France looking beautiful, glowing and full of life, only to sit me down with my younger sister to tell us she had found a lump and they had confirmed this was breast cancer. I broke down immediately and could not bring myself to stop crying. Perhaps because in that moment I knew that the world as I knew it would never ever be the same again. Perhaps because a part of me had been waiting for this day. Knowing breast cancer is hereditary and knowing that my mother’s mother had also had breast cancer, it always felt like it loomed in the distance with the hope that it could be avoided altogether. It was not meant to be and my wonderful lovely kind and caring Mum faced the grim reality of having the Big C find its way into her body and feel so at home it had spread to her lymph nodes too.
She had noticed her skin puckering on her right breast as she bent down and then the lump was felt. A biopsy soon confirmed her worst fears. Stage 2 Breast cancer. My mum swore to us on that day in November she would not be a statistic and she would get through this. 5 years later, a few months prior to our Mum’s 60th Birthday she was gone. Her body was ravished and her soul was free to soar.
There is a long, devastating journey of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, medication, remission, and cancer returning within those years which I won’t delve into. For me, it is important to highlight the reality of cancer. And how important it is to spread awareness, know the signs, seek help as early as possible and try and change the frightening statistics that every 10 minutes someone else’s world is forever changed with a diagnosis of breast cancer. This month alone 5000 people will be diagnosed. My family is just one of the many that know these harsh realities all too well. I wouldn’t wish any of it on my worst enemy.
The Reality of Breast Cancer
- Breast Cancer doesn’t have a type. It doesn’t just find its way into older women’s bodies. It can affect men and young people too. My mum was 54 when diagnosed but recently I met a wonderful vibrant young woman in her early 30s with 2 very young children and breast cancer robbed her of her life far too young. Check your breasts no matter your age or sex.
- Secondary breast cancer can attack other parts of your body. My Mum’s returned in her neck bone, and eventually her lungs causing her to no longer even be able to speak.
- Watching a loved one undergoing chemotherapy is heartbreaking. From relentless nausea, and exhaustion to the hair loss, not just on their heads but eyelashes and eyebrows, it strips them of themselves from the inside out. However, it does also do a remarkable job of diminishing cancer in many cases and did so with my Mummy after the first diagnosis and bought a bit more time for us with her. Ginger biscuits were my mum’s craving after chemo – and ginger, in general, is a good ingredient for nausea if anyone you know is undergoing chemotherapy.
- You learn to laugh through the most devastating times. Breast Cancer can attack your body, tear your family apart, rip your world in two, but it cannot stop you from laughing when you only want to cry. This picture is from the day we were told our Mum’s breast cancer had returned. We didn’t know what the future held or how long we had left with her in our arms but we sure held on tight and laughed together at that moment.
- Breast cancer research is making a positive change. More women are surviving but more are being diagnosed too. They need the money to keep searching for ways to make all people diagnosed with breast cancer survive and thrive.
The reality of watching your precious loved one be stripped of their every fiber of energy, life and vigour is devastating. Breast cancer did that to my family. It took our Mum from us and the love of his life from my Dad. She was our rock and the glue that held it all together. She missed my wedding day, the birth of my children and too many moments where she should have been by all our sides. I will do everything I can to not miss these landmarks in my own children’s lives. This month is breast cancer awareness month and this month is the month I meet with a Dr to discuss genetic testing to see if I hold the gene. As scary as this may be to find out, knowing the scary path after diagnosis and witnessing it first hand I will do anything I can to avoid this.
This is the first step for me to being more aware and using the advances in science to have an advantage over this deadly disease.
Please do your bit this month if you can – buy the ribbon, host an event, purchase products linked to the cause and simply share your stories and spread awareness.
Together we can beat this!
Now go and check your breasts please, whoever you are!
For more information on Breast Cancer Awareness Month and how you help raise awareness visit: www.breastcancercare.org.uk/awareness-month