I Won; Breast Cancer Zero. A Diary of My Battle
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I felt I had been handed a death sentence and cannot quite express in words what a frightening and lonely place a Stage 4 diagnosis takes you too. I felt for the first time in my life that all hope was lost. Women diagnosed as Stage 4 often feel overlooked in favour of stories about people with primary, early stage, treatable breast cancers. The media tends to cover the Pink Ribbon and the Race for Life campaigns and the happy outcomes. However, this hides the bigger picture, which is that a large proportion of primary breast cancer patients go on to develop secondary breast cancer, sometimes years after their original diagnosis.
In the UK alone, some 12, people die of this disease every year. Andy and I returned home from the hospital, terrified. When he had gone to bed, I sat alone and started to plan my funeral.
My only regret was not being married to the incredible man who has stood beside me on this journey. I arranged a simple wedding to Andrew in just two days. After my wedding, and still refusing to believe the Stage 4 diagnosis, I researched, reading countless scientific papers into the early hours of the morning and sought a second opinion. Many of us triple-negative patients can be prescribed drug therapies, with dramatic results. But for others like me, time is running out.
I am now trying to raise money for potentially life-saving Gamma Knife treatment, which is not funded by the British NHS , for myself and other women in the same situation. The funding is currently only available for brain and primary lung tumours, meaning breast cancer patients do not qualify. This technology, which is noninvasive and delivers high-dose, targeted radiation, is now our only chance of extending our lives. If you feel able to share our story or make a donation, we would be eternally grateful: justgiving.
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I then had a break from education, moved to Marlow in Berkshire , and enjoyed a year career in marketing and advertising. I applied and was accepted to study English at Oxford despite growing up on a council estate, Mum and Dad always had high expectations for me.
I then trained to teach, working with young children in a specialist dyslexia unit in Oxford, before returning home to Swindon. I taught English at New College for five years. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer for the first time in October , due to the risk of infection during chemotherapy, I was unable to be among members of the public especially over winter.
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I was so bored at home there is only so much Jeremy Kyle a girl can stand. To keep myself occupied, taught myself to up-cycle vintage and retro pieces of furniture. I was determined that something good would come from something bad, and actually started my own business during this time, creating bespoke pieces. The Bees Knees took off, and we started attending and selling at vintage and retro fairs. I developed a website as well.
So, cancer helped me to discover a creative side I never knew I had! I still tutor, having worked with young offenders to improve their literacy skills, and adult learners returning to education, and now feel I have the best of both worlds. Berenson says there are almost no medical benefits of cannabis in randomised controlled trials. Link between the gut and metabolic disease is a growing area of obesity research. Staying social and active in old age can keep loneliness at bay and reduce dementia risk.
More varied diet, reliance on disinfectants and antibiotics all factors in growing problem. Once a second child enters the equation people forget how hard it was to raise just one. Rachel Flaherty: Here are my top tips for getting back on track after the summer. Campaign highlights importance of early detection in treatment of prostate cancer.
In the Health Centre
Women diagnosed as Stage 4 often feel overlooked in favour of stories about people with primary, early stage, treatable breast cancers The prognosis was dire. Sponsored First-time buyers' event puts Cork on the map with record number of new schemes. Time to make a bold budget statement. It helped me feel strong when everyone expected me to be weak. Keeping active made all the difference. It helped my physical as well as mental recovery.
The love and support of my husband and two daughters meant so much, they were amazing. I asked them to treat me normally, the best thing I could have done because when someone stops being normal with you, you stop feeling normal. They came walking with me and I had regular horror movie nights with my husband, a fantastic outlet for getting out emotion and fear.
There was a lot of laughing too.
My skin became really clear as a result of the chemo and lots of water: I joked with my daughter Billie that I would introduce chemo coffee mornings and see if they took off. Other things that got me through were listening to uplifting music and talking through my worries with someone outside the family too — I had a great therapist. Getting the first all clear was like coming off a ride at a funfair. Now I take each day as it comes. I have changed since cancer. It makes you scared of dying but no longer frightened of living.
With chemotherapy I had to relinquish control of a lot of things, which was good.
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I learned to slow down and smell the roses. After a double mastectomy, she has survived the disease for nearly 22 years. When I was diagnosed aged 47 I went into total denial. I felt guilty. At the time cancer was a real taboo. It was incredibly hard — I felt mutilated. Having worked in a very body-conscious industry it was a real blow. I think I coped because I have quite a strong core.
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I came to terms with it by looking around me and realising how lucky I was to be alive. You realise you have surrounded yourself with rubbish in your life — people, things and situations.
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I stopped saying yes to everything and focused on what made me happy: my charity work and living a positive life with lots of time for my family.