After the loveliest of summers spent with G, the girls and friends, September brought a week of appointments. The first and most important was the results of my genetic testing. It was a biggie, this could impact on me and my family for the rest of my life. When I was told that no genetic cause for my breast cancer could be found the relief was immense. I don’t think I had realised how much the uncertainty had weighed me down, and that weight lifted almost instantly. Whilst they recommend I return for testing in five years time as new genetics tests will be available , for now, my girls are ok. I don’t have the prospect of significant surgery and the inevitable anxiety I would have going for scan to check for a disease which I had already had twice.
I have been in their words “very unlucky.” Well I shall take that and run, I felt so liberated,.I can get on with my life. For me it is the simple things that matter; to live my life free of cancer just enjoying life. I can return to my studies thinking about possible careers and returning to work next September. Yes I will have scans, one in November and yes I will be taking medication for ten years to prevent a recurrence but I can quietly live free from the fear and anxiety that had hung around like a dead weight.
Some of us try to give back in different ways. Earlier this year I took part in some research looking at the breast cancer marketing campaigns. This September I was incredibly proud to join a wonderful group of ladies including our researcher, who spoke about our experiences and attitudes to the campaigns at a conference where the research paper was delivered. I had talked to people in my cancer community so I hope I also spoke for them. It was a very emotional day, I learnt a lot and so glad I took part. Breast Cancer awareness month is upon us, and yes we applaud the awareness, although it can a constant reminder when we personally want to forget. BCAM does raise funds for research and support. For many of us the pink is rather trite and we prefer to donate directly to the charities which help and support us, rather than buy pink stuff. Some breast cancers (there are many types) do not get as much research as others, certainly this is the case with secondary cancer. Some groups of people, e.g. men and the LGBT community don’t appear in the advertising – they too get breast cancer. Hopefully a new era of campaigns will emerge which better reflects the experience and diversity of people affected by breast cancer.
Nature as always helps me. It is autumn, whilst I love the colours, I don’ t like the fading light and the cold. Yet the trees shedding their leaves feels akin to me shedding my cancer skin, sometimes we have to let go to move on. As I try to find my “new normal” I look to the seasons, to the growing, flowering and shedding as a reminder it happens all the time. So this winter I shall embrace the change, use the cold and dark evenings as a time to read a good book, or watch a film. Each season has its positives and it in time will pass to another season, change is constant.
As I end my blog. I feel it is important to recognise all who have helped me over the past two years. My Team George: the huge medical team, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, radiotherapists, radiologists, breast care nurse, oncologists, GPs and practice nurses; my lovely G, my rock and of course my dear girls, family and my wonderful friends, neighbours, colleagues and my community, those strangers on social media some of whom have become friends; the counsellors, psychologist and charities who help us heal and navigate our way through. I know I would not be the person today without every single one of you. So quite simply – thank you to you all!
Three things I am grateful for:
- Having a wonderful summer to celebrate my 50th year
- For my garden and allotment which give me so much pleasure
- For discovering yoga – just love it.