Shock of Diagnosis
I was happy and laid-back, living with my husband, daughters and two cats. I had been looking after my girls, but just started full-time as a family support worker when I was diagnosed. At that point, my world fell apart. I was so shocked, I didn’t even cry. Life completely changed, I couldn’t stop thinking about cancer and that I was going to die.
I carried on working throughout chemo. I was most concerned about keeping my hair. I thought, if I could keep it, everything would feel normal. So I used a cold cap, which was painful and made treatment hard, but I managed to keep most of my hair.
Struggling with Emotions
After chemo, I had a lumpectomy, which was a whirlwind of emotion – I remember crying all the way to theatre. Afterwards, I was told the surgery was unsuccessful. I was knocked back because it meant I needed a mastectomy and that was when I went off work. I was all over the place emotionally and realised I couldn’t keep carrying on as ‘normal’. I tried CBT to help with emotions and dealing with thoughts about cancer, but it didn’t help, I was waking with panic attacks.
After surgery and radiotherapy, life sort of went back to normal. I went back to work, did a 10km run and signed up to a half marathon, but inside I was knocked about something rotten, I feared it would come back.
That first year was the hardest. I kept checking myself again and again, as well as had further tests and scans, it was a massive roller coaster emotionally.