5-year cancerversary after HER2/ER-positive breast cancer

It’s a date that no cancer patient will ever forget.  The day they were diagnosed.  The 23rd of April this year marked five years since the day I received that devastating news. I heard the words that no-one ever wants to hear. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

It’s an odd feeling, celebrating the point in time that something frightening happened to you. This particular ‘cancerversary’ was a strange day for me and I unexpectedly experienced mixed and strong emotions.  I felt uber happy and super grateful to have got this far because it’s such a huge milestone for any cancer patient in remission.  My cancerversary also poignantly fell on a Thursday. We took part in the weekly clap to show appreciation for our NHS, carers and key workers who are bravely working so hard on the frontline during this COVID19 crisis.  My appreciation that Thursday was even more heartfelt as I owe so much to the NHS.  To all the doctors, surgeons, nurses and myriad staff who cared for me throughout my breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

As well as feeling pleased to have reached this five-year milestone, I also had an overwhelming sense of guilt.  Guilt for friends who have not survived.  Guilt for others who are living with secondary cancer and don’t have the luxury of being cancer-free.  All the feelings and emotions associated with the classic survivor’s guilt.

While many factors play a part in someone’s breast cancer returning or metastasising, sadly 30% of all primary breast cancers will return and spread. There are many things one can do to try and reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence such as diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight etc. But it does seem like it’s a bit of a lottery, or more like Russian roulette, for those whose cancer does return.

I think the emotions I felt and continue to feel are magnified by the devastating loss of a good friend last year to breast cancer. Having connected with Rosemary online through her beautifully written blog, we met up in person and started a lovely friendship.  Together with Dee, who had also been blogging about her breast cancer, we became really good friends. Our threesome provided each other with amazing support whilst we were going through treatment and out the other side.

After suffering shortness of breath and with a suspected blood clot on her lung, further investigations revealed that Rosemary’s cancer had sadly returned. It had metastasised in her liver and to the extent that it was untreatable.  She and her family were given the heartbreaking news that she only had weeks to live.  Within the space of a month, she had moved to a hospice into palliative care to spend her last days surrounded by her beloved family before she passed away.  We had both been diagnosed around the same time with a similar stage cancer – how on earth could this be?

Rosemary was the loveliest and most caring person you could ever meet. She was a truly kind soul who adored her family and dedicated her life working to selflessly help, encourage and support others.  Rosemary was such a positive lady, she even started the hashtag #TeamPositive when she was diagnosed with breast cancer to help conversations with her family.  The hashtag grew and now it lives on evoking memories of her wonderful spirit and ethos.

As we said a very emotional goodbye to dear Rosemary at the celebration of her life, it was evident how much of a positive impact this special lady had on the lives of so many.  She leaves a lasting legacy of love, kindness and compassion.

team positive


It was difficult to deal with her loss.  Not only because of the shock and speed in which she was taken and the overbearing sadness I felt for her family and friends.  But it also ripped the rug out from beneath me as I was happily getting on with life and putting cancer behind me.  It brought everything all back to the fore and I felt very anxious and started to immediately mistrust my body.

The shock of her passing was another stark reminder of how short life is. That sometimes we take it for granted that we will be here tomorrow. That we must focus on what’s important, to appreciate our loved ones, live for the day – carpe diem – and not put off doing the things we want to do in life.

Of course, this is now impossible to do during the coronavirus  pandemic.  It felt doubly strange being in lockdown on this milestone cancerversary.  Other than eating a delicious meal that my hubby made and raising a toast, there wasn’t anything else I could have done to ‘celebrate’ this milestone.  I think so much of all those who have lost loved ones and are grieving and who cannot be with, or gain comfort from, their family and friends.  I also think of the cancer patients who have been given a terminal diagnosis and will want to be spending their last days being with family and doing enjoyable things.  Or those cancer patients who have finally got themselves through treatment with the hopes and dreams of being free of hospitals, going on holidays, doing special things and enjoying themselves.

There is always the thought in the back of my mind that it could come back at any time. Sometimes that’s more prominent than others. I also had a bit of a misconception about reaching the five-year point. Cancer is most likely to return within this time and in getting to five years you might think you’re home and dry at this point.  Something which is echoed in this really good article on the Late Recurrence vs. Early Relapse of Breast Cancer  where it talks about breast cancer survivors underestimating the risk of late recurrence:

“A survey led by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network found that women often underestimate their risk of late recurrence. In the survey, only 10% were aware of the risk of recurrence after five years of tamoxifen therapy, and 40% felt that they were cured after hitting the five-year mark.2

It goes on to say:

“With estrogen receptor-negative tumors (HER2 positive or triple-negative), the risk of recurrence peaks at around two years post-diagnosis, and is relatively uncommon after five years.

Hormone-sensitive breast cancers (those that are estrogen and/or progesterone receptor-positive) account for roughly 70% of breast cancers. It is these tumors that are more likely (more than 50%) to come back after five years than during the first five years after diagnosis.”

It was a hard post to read, especially as I fall into the estrogen receptor-positive and HER2-positive categories, but it contains detailed information backed with statistics and evidence.  The truth is, we will never be ‘cured’ of cancer, just thankful to be living with ‘no evidence of disease’.

I would have had my annual mammogram and MRI last month, but this has been cancelled due to COVID19. Like a lot of other cancer patients, I am terrified about whether I should take the risk of going to the hospital for my scan/check-up. I’ve been told that my local hospital has put in strict measures by giving people a mask on the way in, using hand sanitiser, taking your temperature, only allowing entry through the appropriate entrance for your appointment with security on the door checking and using social distancing. Of course, one cannot social distance whilst having a mammogram or other scan.

I’m taking solace in the fact that I found my breast lump, but that doesn’t take away the fear of what might be going on in my body in the meantime.  Jo Taylor, founder of After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABC) Diagnosis, created the brilliant infographics below to help primary patients recognise symptoms of breast cancer.

For ductal breast cancer:


For lobular breast cancer:



5-year cancer survivor


I’m not sure whether it feels like 60 months ago.  On a regular day, probably yes, on an anniversary like this, no it doesn’t.   So, so much has happened in those 260 weeks. So much distress, pain, fear and anxiety. But thankfully, these times have been outweighed by happy and fun-filled days making memories with my dear hubby, family and friends.

A friend put me in touch with her sister-in-law before I started chemo as she had recently been through breast cancer treatment herself.  She told me that it wouldn’t seem possible now, but that there can be positive things that come out of this. How could there possibly be anything positive as a result of having cancer I thought?!

But here, five years on, as I reflect over the last 1,825 days, there have been positive experiences from my breast cancer diagnosis and I have done things I would never have done before.  One example is when I nervously walked out on a stage in front of a packed hall of people (including my supportive family and friends) to help raise money for the fantastic Breast Cancer Haven charity   Also creating this blog has been hugely positive. Not only is it a form of creative therapy for me, it has enabled me to connect with and be part of a huge online supportive community of breast cancer patients. It has also helped me create two very special friendships.

As well as giving back to charities and organisations who supported me, I am now positively using my experience to help other patients who are going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment. I point people towards the resources, support and communities that helped me on my journey.  In my spare time, I also now work as a patient expert for for merakoi. They partner with healthcare companies to bring the patient voice to healthcare solutions. Ultimately this helps to inform and innovate healthcare that makes a difference to patients’ lives.  It’s such a great opportunity and I am part of a hugely inspiring team of patient experts and a supportive company whose mission, values and ethos are aligned with my own.

I look forward to many more positives and happier days in the future, whilst also remembering those we have lost along the way.

Stay safe #TeamPositive xx

2 BC Medical Journal. Breast Cancer Survivors Underestimate Recurrence Risk. 2007.

Images by: abc diagnosis

Coronavirus and cancer: Another ‘new normal’

The coronavirus outbreak is causing worry and heartache across the world with people feeling anxious, afraid, overwhelmed and a whole host of other emotions. We are all having to adjust, make sacrifices and get used to a ‘new normal’.

I spoke to someone this week who interestingly related how people are feeling in the current crisis to the Kubler-Ross Change Curve (created by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969). This is also known as the five stages of grief and includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Having read a little further into this, I can see how relevant this is right now.

Kübler-Ross-ModelThe Kuber-Ross Change Curve

Marie Skelton also illustrates how this specifically relates to COVID-19 in the ‘Coronavirus Change Curve’ below.

Coronovirus-Change-CurveCoronavirus Change Curve – Where are you on this curve?

Not everyone goes through each stage, and some people spend longer in one stage than in others, while others skip some stages altogether.  Marie Skelton

Not only can I relate to this in the current coronavirus outbreak, but also as someone who has previously dealt with a life-threatening disease. There are many feelings that people across the world are experiencing right now that I recognise having had cancer.  Over the last few weeks, so many memories and fears around being diagnosed with breast cancer and having treatment have strangely resurfaced. This might seem strange to someone who has not had cancer. But I have seen many other cancer patients drawing parallels between dealing with coronavirus and their own cancer experiences.  Many have said they feel that having chemo has been a rehearsal for this lockdown that we are all currently in.

There is that feeling of being utterly scared for your life and completely overwhelmed when you are first diagnosed. In those early days and throughout treatment, your whole world changes and life as you once knew it is turned upside down.  You have no idea how your future will pan out anymore. You are faced with your mortality at a stage in your life you didn’t think you would be. You have constant dark and worrying thoughts that drain you and you’re unable to concentrate.  You wake up in the morning with a feeling of absolute terror.  You are constantly researching about the cancer you have, the treatments available and people tell you of all sorts of supposed cures. You lose the sense of normality you once had and the feeling of being in control.  There is a sense of grief and loss of things you once enjoyed and future dreams and plans being hijacked.  You are hypervigilant and on a constant state of alert about everything that is going on inside your body that you wouldn’t normally worry about. That every slightest little symptom, ache, pain or high temperature could be something life-threatening when having chemo, or years down the line living in fear that your cancer may have returned.

Amongst all the darkness, worry, distress and pain there is also an outpouring of love, care and kindness. Not only from friends and family but also corners of the world you never knew existed before. Someone to hold your hand, to give you support, to check in on you that you’re okay and giving you their support.

Even the darkest night will end quote

Cancer patients are already all too familiar with adapting to a ‘new normal’.  But they have had to come to terms with this on their own. Some seek out the support of others who have been through the same experience. Now, there is this other new normal to cope with and it feels a little strange that everyone is experiencing it at the same time.

Life isn’t quite the same after cancer. Over time you begin to feel better – physically and emotionally, you gain strength again and re-evaluate everything. After going through treatment and coming back out the other side, I began looking at life through a different lens. Whilst I am still very driven and tenacious in my working life and want to achieve my personal goals and dreams, I decided to go down to a 4-day working week. I wanted to gain a better work-life balance, to reduce the stresses of work and protect my health. I wanted so much to fill our days and time with fun things and living life to the full. Ticking things off my newly formed bucket list, going on holidays, getting together with friends and family, days out, gigs, experiences and treating ourselves to a little bit of well-earned luxury. Now all those things are temporarily off-limits.

It’s hard to believe whilst you’re going through it at the time, but there have been many positives following my cancer experience.  Not only did I feel the amazing love and support from my husband, family and friends, I have also connected with many other breast cancer patients – through local face-to-face support groups, online communities and my blog.  I have made friends with others through a connection with breast cancer.  I have helped to give back to those charities and organisations who were there for me and supported me in my hardest times.

From dark and testing times in life, there often comes strength, courage, bravery and resilience.  My cancer experience has taught me how to be stronger and to be able to better cope with change and times of uncertainty. It has taught me to focus on living in the now, to not put off doing the things I want to do and to not take it for granted that tomorrow will be as it is today.  To not sweat the small stuff in life and live with more gratitude and kindness.

Life is amazing and then it's awful quote

I too hope that as the world emerges out the other side of this crisis, that there will be many positive changes in people and how we live our lives, how we interact with and treat each other and reflect on what is important in life.  To not take our days for granted, to be kinder and look after one another. To be thankful for the unsung heroes who have cared for and looked after us in our toughest times.

Whilst I am not undergoing current active treatment, my heart goes out to those patients who are having cancer treatment (as well as all those who are vulnerable and have other underlying conditions).  Having cancer is a frightening enough experience to try and cope with without having to deal with being at risk from coronavirus on top.  From the newly diagnosed to those with metastatic cancer and those in palliative end of life care.  Those patients who are facing delays to their surgeries and treatment, who are scared to go to the hospital to have the treatment they desperately need or cannot have physical contact with their loved ones.  And of course, we owe a depth of gratitude to all our amazing doctors, nurses and carers who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe. 

I will leave you with this poem. Unbelievably it was written in 1869, yet feels so current and as if it was written in our day:

And people stayed home
And he read books and listened
And he rested and did exercises
And he made art and played
And he learned new ways of being
And he stopped
And he listened more deeply
Someone meditated
Someone prayed
Someone was dancing
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who lived
In ignorant ways
Meaningless and heartless,
Even the earth began to heal
And when the danger ended
And people found themselves
They mourned for the dead
And they made new choices
And they dreamed of new visions
And they created new ways of living
And they completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.

~ Grace Ramsay ~

When the sun rises again and we can emerge from the safety of our homes, the world is going to be a different place.  I’d be interested to hear your views on how you think our society will change and also what changes you will make to your own life post-COVID-19.

You might be interested to read my other posts on Inspiring and motivating poetry , What makes us human?  and Thank you.

Stay safe and best wishes to you xx

Images by: cleverism.com and marieskelton.com

End of the kinky tale: Goodbye chemo curl

I have to say it feels strange to still be writing about what has happened to my hair since it started growing back over three years ago after finishing treatment for breast cancer.  After a recent experience with my hair I wanted to write this blog post to understand if other people have experienced similar emotionsI finished active treatment in 2016 and having grown my hair out ever since, it had got to a rather long length.  On a recent visit to my hair dresser, he recommended having more cut off than just my usual trim and to keep the ends healthy etc. I thought about this for a while longer and by the time of my next appointment, I was feeling brave enough and decided to go for it and IMG_3785have it cut off.

In those early days of my hair beginning to grow back after treatment, it was thick, curly and a rather dull, pewter colour. Having rectified the colour situation, I came to absolutely love the new thick texture and curls that had been created from the chemical concoction of chemotherapy drugs.  Using a balayage technique, my hairdresser had created a beautiful colour to my hair, that was darker at the roots with a natural, sun-kissed look on the ends.   Having spent a couple of weeks in the delightful Maldives a few months earlier, this had also magnified the colour beautifully.

What some people constitute as having a lot of hair cut off and what I do are probably wildly different.  I guess others might think if you’ve had such short hair before it wouldn’t be a big deal to have your hair cut.  Let’s be clear here, this was no bob!  But, having worked up the courage to have some length cut off, I sat and watched as my hairdresser gleefully snipped away at the ends of my hair.   I saw the lacklustre strands falling to the floor like a shower of sun scorched blades of grass.

My hair dresser had done a fabulous job that day, as he always does, but I left the salon that morning feeling pleased that my hair was in better condition, but also a strange feeling of sadness, like a little bit of me was missing.  Gone were the last of my ‘chemo curls’ and so too was the sun-kissed colour.

Whether it’s deemed to be shallow or not, whether women commonly have this feeling or if it’s because I lost my hair to cancer and now having it back in all its glory, my state of mind and perception of myself seems to be inextricably linked with my hair.  I guess others might see cutting the curls off as a positive way of saying f**k you to cancer and I can understand that.  Pre-cancer I’d have to spend ages to create curls with heated styling tools.  Having lovely wavy hair was the only upside of my cancer experience and I guess I wanted to hold on to that benefit for as long as I could.

These sorts of things make you realise that even when you think you’re ‘out the other side’ of cancer, there are still a lot of painful memories and emotions tied up with hair and the every day of life.  They often come at a time when you think you’re ‘okay’ with it. As healthcare website, WebMD says:

The song says “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” but when you’ve had breast cancer you discover that it’s not even over when it’s over.

Even the normal and mundane things in life can often throw up a reminder of your cancer when you’re least expecting it.  Now, every time I go on holiday,  I beep as I go through the airport scanner.  This is because of the metal marker clips put in my breast where the tumour site was and I have to go through the public pat-down and additional security checks.  Clearly air safety is paramount and I’m glad they’re so thorough, I have just come to expect the little reminder on every trip now.   I’m thankful of course that I am lucky enough to still be alive, well and able to go on holidays and enjoy life.

Having experienced some back pain towards the end of last year, I underwent a series of tests/x-rays and had a precautionary spine MRI earlier this year.  Whilst it did show that I have a slight curvature of the spine, I was pleased to know there was nothing more sinister going on.  Thankfully I have had both my yearly mammogram and MRI scan showing “no concerning features” so feel utterly grateful to have another year clear under my belt.

These feelings are always laced with guilt when you hear news of others who have faced much more cruel luck against cancer.  I’d got back in touch with a colleague I worked with over 20 years ago, learning that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.  I’ve always tried my best to help others who have been diagnosed, trying to give useful information, tips, reference sites and support and encouragement that will hopefully aid them along their own journey.  We’d email each other and he’d update me on where he was with his treatment.  After his treatment finished, his cancer returned in his lung and sadly he passed away earlier this year.  Another dear soul, taken at far too young an age to this cruel disease.

The written word is my favourite form of communication and I always find it a cathartic and healing process to put my feelings onto paper.  My poor hairdresser was mortified to learn that I’d regretted having my hair cut.  He will never know how just cutting a few inches of my hair off would have such a cataclysmic effect.  Now with the last of my chemo waves gone, I bizarrely still feel the need to curl my hair and don’t like to go out of the house with it straight!

My hair will regain its length very soon and this will all be a distant memory again.  I absolutely cherish the fact that life continues to travel upwards.  I think I feel more happier and content now than ever  before.  My job is going really well and I’ve just surprisingly been nominated for an excellence award for my work on a recent bid.  I was so gobsmacked that my colleagues had taken the time to write a nomination for me, it’s such an honour and massive confidence boost.

I’d be really interested to know if anyone else has experienced similar feelings in relation to their hair after losing it through cancer treatment, or for any other reason.

You might also be interested in my posts Breast cancer photo diary – Diagnosis, treatment, hair loss and beyond showing how hair can grow back after breast cancer treatment and How I felt losing my hair.


Images by Glamour  and Amazon.

Cancerversary – Three years on

I’ve not written a post for a while now, the year so far has been rather hectic, to say the least. Sadly, our dear ‘Nana Pats’ departed this world just two weeks into the start of 2018. My hubby’s dearly beloved Nan had been suffering for some time and whilst we were all deeply saddened by losing her, it felt like the kindest thing for her in some ways. Gone but absolutely not forgotten.

After a blissful week off at Christmas, work-wise the year started off at full pelt from the get-go. In amongst working like crazy, a wonderful visit from our dear Canadian family, Mr Moon’s birthday celebrations, a dose of nasty flu and interviews, in February I was super chuffed and excited to land myself a new job!

I’d had a challenging time in my last job, I started it six months after I’d finished treatment. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was still very much broken and weak and working in a demanding and very stressful job took its toll on me.

It’s hard to break away from what can feel safe and comfortable, to stick with what you know and are familiar with. Fear of failure and thinking I’m not good enough are definitely strong themes for me. But I guess one thing I’ve learnt and try to live by, is that if something doesn’t feel right for you, then you need to make a change, or life will often have a habit of forcing you to change.


I’ve written about this need for change before and also recently read an interesting article about stepping outside of your comfort zone. I found these words uplifting and motivating:

“Focusing on growth rather than comfort is empowering. It will give you a more positive outlook as even the worst situations offer opportunities to grow; it gets you focused on the present, as every new situation is a fresh opportunity and your past doesn’t have to determine your future; and it involves taking responsibility for your own experience, creating the life you want with each opportunity that you grasp.

Despite it only being the start of the year and not long since the Christmas break, I’d left my job feeling mentally and physically exhausted. I was lucky to have some breathing space before starting my new job, and as such, took the opportunity to take a nice chilled out holiday with my sister. We spent a week relaxing in the sunshine, laughing so much and enjoying some quality time together. It was just perfect and a great chance to reconnect.

So here I am with three weeks of the new job under my belt. There is so much to take in, but all very interesting stuff and a nice bunch of people to boot which massively helps! There are opportunities to do training courses and to learn and develop myself further which I’m really looking forward to. The office looks out over a lake and we’ve had the pleasure of seeing ducks and lots of little bunnies hopping about outside – delightful!

Tomorrow will be the three-year anniversary of when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Life has certainly fully returned to normal, something so hard to consider possible just two short years ago when I’d finished my active treatment. I have my yearly follow up mammogram appointment on Tuesday. I feel absolutely fine and have no signs of recurrence so I should feel more easy about it than I do.

I guess those feelings are never really going to subside. I’m not so much worried about the mammogram, my tumour didn’t show up on the mammogram when I was referred to the clinic. It only showed its ugly head on the MRI (because of my age/have dense breast tissue) so I personally don’t trust it anyway.

Once I get the results back from the MRI I will feel better, but it’s such a lengthy process waiting for the results. Last year it took the best part of three months from the mammogram appointment to getting MRI results. The severely stretched radiologist team had not examined the results. After numerous phone calls, I eventually got the good news that all was clear. During that wait, you’re just hoping and praying that nothing has shown up on the scan. That your body hasn’t betrayed you once more.

I sincerely hope the wait won’t be so long this year. With lots to keep me busy at the moment, I will try and disengage the anxious, worrying part of me and focus on this now being the third year on and concentrate on all the positive and good stuff happening. I know how fortunate I am to be able to celebrate getting this far with so many others being taken so soon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on reaching certain milestones in your survivorship? Do you face the same demons each time or do they get easier the further down the path you travel?

You may be interested in reading my previous posts on Cancerversary: Two-year survivorship and breast cancer screening and my first Cancerversary.

Image from https://passmeanothercupcake.com/tag/cancerversary/

Breast cancer photo diary – Diagnosis, treatment, hair loss and beyond

Today is the two-year anniversary of the date that I finished chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

Whilst it’s been a long time in the making, my intention was always to post a photo diary in the hope that it would helps others who have either just been diagnosed, are soon to start chemotherapy, are currently having treatment or those whose hair is starting to grow back.


Supporting the fighters, admiring the survivors and honouring those who have been taken too soon.

You might also be interested in my posts about The big countdown…waiting for chemo to start and How I felt losing my hair.

Breast cancer survivor’s thoughts on ticking off the bucket list

I’m a big fan of lists – I love a list! Feeling organised, setting goals, not making the mistake of forgetting something and being in control. Whilst some might call it being slightly anal, you can’t beat the feeling of the positive emotions released when ticking off a completed task, reminder or goal.

Some years ago I watched the 2007 film, The Bucket List. The story of two men – strangers, meeting in a cancer ward, both having been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. They went on to develop a close bond and friendship on their round the world adventures, fulfilling all the dreams on their list.

I suppose I thought a bucket list was one of those things I’d contemplate making later on in life, although I’ve really no idea why. I guess getting older, realising the opportunities to do things are diminishing and wishing to squeeze things into life. This clearly doesn’t make sense! Life is one great big bucket list – goals, ambitions, dreams and desires to be fulfilled. Admittedly, it’s a life ruled mostly by inescapable responsibilities (often the things that give us purpose in life) and undoubtedly sprinkled with tough times – pain, anxiety, fear, worry and grief. Memories we wish we could erase from our lives. But if we aren’t the master of our own lives…who is?

It will be two years ago next month that I finished chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.  As we’ve now entered October, Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think we’d all agree that we’re all very much ‘aware’ of breast cancer. It’s a cure that we need. Jenefer Phoenix  recently tweeted using the #BreastCancerRealityCheck hashtag (cancer patients and survivors telling their truth about what it means to have primary or secondary/metastatic breast cancer):

#BreastCancerRealityCheck is friends expecting you to have a renewed zest for life but instead you have an overwhelming awareness of death.

This is so true. After having had such a close-up encounter with one’s mortality, it’s very difficult not to live in fear. Unbelievably hard not to think the worst – that any ache or pain you have means it’s come back. And for those living with metastatic cancer, it must be hard trying to escape the dark ubiquitous thoughts occupying the mind on a daily basis – very overwhelming indeed.

I’ve had huge lows dealing with and surviving this indiscriminate and cruel disease.  Thankfully these have been uplifted by the many highs I’ve also experienced along the way too. Always cherishing fond memories of spending happy times with family and friends and enjoying all manner of experiences that bring joy and happiness to life.

Now more than ever, I am more thankful for this precious life, knowing how quickly and easily it can be stolen from us.  So, I have started to create my own bucket list! My hubby absolutely detests this phrase. He believes it should be given a much more positive term such as a ‘living list’. He’s probably right.

After finishing active treatment last year, I only realised how little energy I had until I found myself bounding out of bed, pottering in the garden for hours, cleaning and even painting our bedroom and lounge…all things that previously would have tired me out just at the thought.

I knew my husband had been taking on much more of his fair share in keeping up our home and household chores. I’d felt guilty, feeling like I was being lazy, but in hindsight, I can see I just didn’t have the energy. Going back to work full time took everything I had at the time, the thought of going out socialising and doing other things on top was just too much.

bad days will pass

As hard as it is at the time to see into the future without the dreaded C word impacting your life – taking over your thoughts, your worries, your time, your body, your freedom. The saying ‘it soon shall pass’ is very true.

I met a very upbeat and positive lady just before I was about to start chemotherapy treatment. Being able to talk through worries and concerns with someone who had been in my own shoes helped so much. She lent me scarves to wear and showed me different tricks and ways to make them look better. She said ‘In a year’s time, you’ll look back on this part of your life as a blip. Your fears will lessen and it won’t consume you.  Some positive things can come out of this.’ After finishing her treatment she’d gone on to achieve the life-long ambition of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as all sorts of travels to amazing places. She inspired me and I took great courage from her words.

Sadly this is not true for many, many people. The tragic passing of an old friend earlier this year from pancreatic cancer, just a few years older than me, brings home once again the devastation and loss this evil disease rips through lives.  Comprehending the horror of hearing you only have months to live – I cannot begin to imagine how one copes with being dealt that card. A once in a lifetime honeymoon trip followed by a fun, but bittersweet, wedding party. Only for his life to then have been cruelly cut much shorter than anticipated. How incomprehensible for a wedding and funeral to happen in the space of less than a month.

I have such tremendous feelings of deep sadness for his wife, family and dear friends. Also a massive guilt about why I was lucky to survive and he didn’t. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of how my funeral would be – which songs I’d want and where I’d like my ashes sprinkled. All these fears were played out in reality for such a fun-loving man, taken in the prime of his life.

I’m pleased that life is now allowing me the time and energy to spread my wings again and be much more of a social butterfly. I have ticked off so many fab things already on my ‘living list’. A trip in a beautiful 1960s split screen VW campervan, a family holiday abroad, a night at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, a trip to Edinburgh and staying with dear friends in Scotland, watching Jools Holland, a weekend in a cosy cottage with a fire and hot tub, being being pampered on girly spa weekends, learning how to make pottery, a trip to beautiful Bath, eating in a Michelin starred restaurant, a trip to Glastonbury, a day out at Wimbledon, watching Gregory Porter live at the stunning Blenheim Palace, dancing the night away to Craig Charles’ Funk & Soul show and laughing my socks off at Micky Flanagan! So, so many wonderful memories.  And as I sit and type now looking out over the crystal clear, sparkling azure of the Balearic Sea in Ibiza, another wish ticked off my list.

Still so, so many things and places to go on my list.  Cuba, the Maldives, Santorini, The Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Hawaii, Croatia, staying in a beach bungalow over the Indian Ocean, The 606 Club, writing a book, learning and studying… I can’t wait to tick even more off my list!

What’s on your bucket list? I’d love to hear what experiences and goals you want to achieve.

You might also be interested to read my posts on New beginnings and Inspiring and motivational poetry.

Image by berry.com.

Cancerversary: Two-year survivorship and breast cancer screening

It’s that time of year again. Just as new life is sprouting all over, the anniversary of when I was diagnosed with breast cancer has come round again and today marks a new milestone – my two year survivorship.

I still cannot believe that it was two years ago now that I received the devastating news that, aged 38 years old, I had breast cancer. So much has happened in that space of time, and thankfully it actually feels much longer than two years now. Much of that is a direct result of me now living a much more ‘normal’ life and being more on track again.

I find it’s mixed feelings when your ‘cancerversary’ comes round. Part of you feels like it’s something to be celebrated (after all survivorship is a lucky place to be in which others are not so lucky). But it’s also very strange. You generally celebrate happy things like birthdays, wedding anniversaries – joyful things – and thoughts always come back of a very dark time which doesn’t seem appropriate to celebrate.

As the whole experience very gladly starts to become more of a distant memory, sometimes random thoughts enter my head and it all seems a little surreal, that I actually had cancer. But of course, it will never really go away, the worries and anxieties about what is really going on inside my body that I don’t know about. The loss of trust in one’s body and the fear of it coming back again.

As the anniversary comes round of my initial diagnosis, so too does the annual mammogram screening appointment. These feelings are magnified even more at this time of year as it’s time for my annual routine check up. Whilst blissfully enjoying life and living it to the full, the crazy thoughts start getting louder in my head about the upcoming scans. This is known as ‘scanxiety’ and those unfortunate to experience this know exactly what this feels like.  Rosemary and Rebecca both describe this feeling perfectly in their recent posts about the stress felt around mammogram time.

I received the letter confirming my appointment a few weeks ago. It dropped on the door mat like every other letter the postie delivers. But letters from the hospital are so unmistakable now.  I recognise the style of envelope, the font type and the franking they use.

The lump I had found two years prior had not shown up on the mammogram, it had only shown up on the MRI. Last year they reassured me that I would continue to have an MRI as well as a mammogram going forward because of the dense breast tissue that women my age have.

It was not apparent from the appointment letter whether this was for a mammogram or MRI. If it is an MRI appointment they usually enclose a detailed leaflet about the MRI scan. Despite them reassuring me last year, I was concerned they would have forgotten about this fact and I wanted to be absolutely certain I was due to have an MRI too.

I rang the number printed on the appointment letter.  I was greeted and spoken to by a lady I did not recognise and who, from the very outset, was completely insensitive to the needs, worries and anxiety of anyone who would be calling. She was abrupt, condescending and very unsympathetic.  Her telephone manner actually reduced me to tears and I asked if I could speak to my breast care nurse instead.

I had never encountered this response before when calling this department. The secretaries and ladies answering the phone had always been courteous, polite and had a gentle sense of empathy about them. Thankfully my breast care nurse called me back shortly afterwards. She confirmed that whilst unfortunately both scans cannot be done on the same day, I would indeed be receiving an MRI appointment as well.

When I had my routine screening this time last year, the results of the mammogram came back clear. This means absolutely nothing to me now given that my tumour did not show up on this before. I had the MRI scan a couple of weeks later.  I had to wait an extended period to receive my results. I was thinking that no news is good news. After all, they’d call me back straight away if something wasn’t as they’d expected right? Wrong. After about 3-4 weeks’ waiting (and a number of calls I’d made chasing the status) I received a phone call saying they’d seen something on the MRI and I needed to go back in for an ultrasound.

fingers crossedMy heart sank when I received this call. Luckily the appointment was the following day so no more antagonising wait. My hubby came with me to the hospital and came into the consultation room with me. They explained that they’d seen something on the MRI and needed to do an ultrasound to investigate further. Once more, I undressed and laid on the bed ready for inspection with both fingers crossed. At 39 years old, why did I think this gesture would still have an impact on the result?!

After the doctor scanned the area, he said that from what they had seen they wanted to take a biopsy. This was agonising. Not again. Surely I wouldn’t be sucked back into the whirlwind of cancer land once more.

core needle biopsyAs I started to weep, my husband came and held my hand whilst they did the core needle biopsy. I couldn’t believe I was lying here again, one year later going through the same traumatic experience. When it was complete, I got dressed and once again, left the hospital in a state of shock and sheer fright.

Where possible, I’ve tried to shield my family from the distress of this not knowing and worry. My parents and sister were just about to go on holiday when I was called back for the ultrasound last year. My thinking was that I wanted them to enjoy themselves on holiday, it doesn’t happen often so why have them worry when it could be nothing? Upon her return and finding this out, my sister gently reprimanded me saying they would have wanted to know. There is always a very fine line between protecting your loved ones and involving them.

I am normally a very positive person, but cancer does horrid things to you. It had been bad news before so in my head I was preparing for the worst.  I went to a really dark place and was mentally preparing myself for having a mastectomy, losing my hair all over again and thinking morbid thoughts about how I’d want my funeral to be, even down to the songs I would want to be played.  To someone not living in cancer land, this will all sound absurd, insane and very extreme. But these were valid and at times all consuming thoughts.

This uncertainty and a question mark over what my immediate future held, meant I started to put decisions on hold until we knew what the result was. Even little things like going out for friend’s birthdays – I didn’t want to be wasting money that would be precious to us if we were to hear bad news.  All of this was also going on amongst the backdrop of being told at work that our jobs were being made redundant.

Thankfully, this was a false alarm and the results came back that there was nothing cancerous. I’m glad I didn’t spoil my family’s holiday as it turned out to be nothing to worry about.

My fear of scans has been intensified even more by finding a lump in my neck at the end of last year. I was up against a deadline at work, feeling really stressed and had an odd feeling in my neck.  At first I thought it was a vein, but after more prodding, I discovered a small lump above my collarbone.

I’d had a cold a couple of weeks beforehand and so it could have been related to that, but I also knew this was one of the signs of recurrence and is common for it to spread to the lymph nodes in this area. I immediately starting googling symptoms and what to look out for. After pondering for a while I decided it would be better to get it checked out rather than worry about it, so made an appointment with the breast clinic.

Once more the terror returned. How long had it been there and I hadn’t noticed it? If it was in my lymphatic system it could be travelling to other parts of my body too.

At the clinic they examined me and did an ultrasound on the lump. They said they didn’t think it was anything suspicious but they wanted to be absolutely sure so sent me for a CT scan of the neck/chest area.  I felt relieved that they didn’t think it was sinister and reassured that they were so cautious about investigating further. Of course the worry wouldn’t stop, not until the results were back.

I wanted to get this over and done with before Christmas, but when calling the scanning department they said they didn’t have any appointments free until January. Then a few days before Christmas I received a call to say they’d had a cancellation and was I free to go in. I was on annual leave for Christmas so was available to commit to the appointment there and then.

This was on the run up to Christmas and I’d spent quite a lot of money on presents for family and friends. I then started worrying that I’d have to return them all to the shops (a habit I’m normally very familiar with!) because we’d need every penny we have to survive going through all that again.

Once more, I didn’t want to worry my parents with another scare just before Christmas and chose not to tell them about the recent discovery at that stage. We had a lovely Christmas break with our families and friends and awaited the results that would follow in the New Year.  More waiting. There is always waiting.  And whilst you wait, there is uncertainty.

Upon going back to the hospital to receive my results, I was delighted to be told that once again, I had nothing to worry about and that the lump was completely benign and was likely just a swollen lymph gland.

she stood in the stormThankfully what they found in my breast last year wasn’t sinister. Equally the lump in my neck also turned out not to be anything nasty. But the rollercoaster journey you are taken on results in the same amount of stress, fear and worry.

Just at the time that new life is sprouting all over, I have such vivid recollections of this time two years ago. Spring time, busy at home working on the house, getting back in the garden after the winter period.  As I wrote in my previous post, it’s hard to escape the memories that evoke at certain times.

Whilst I await my mammogram, MRI scan and endure the all too familiar wait, I will remain grateful that I am still here enjoying life. I will still superstitiously be crossing my fingers hoping with all my heart that I get another clear result.

Please click here for more information on how to check yourself and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.


Evoking memories

As I was laying in bed the other morning, trying to wake myself up from sleep, my clock radio was playing a song – a track by M People. Even in my bleary-eyed sleepy slumber, in that instant in my head I was immediately transported back to the time I went to see this group in concert with an ex-boyfriend many, many years ago.  Our minds, the brain and our memory absolutely fascinate me and it’s amazing that from just hearing a certain piece of music can evoke such strong and vivid memories – memories that have disappeared  into the ether until they’re re-ignited again by one of our senses.

Last week I ventured out on a trip to meet up with my dear friend.  We’ve been buddies for as long as I can remember, and since she moved up to Scotland over 10 years ago, the amount of quality time we get to spend together is few and far between. We now make sure we plan a trip together, just the two of us, no husbands or children, to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company.

We stayed in a lovely spa hotel in the Peak District – the exact same hotel we stayed in two years ago. Back in April 2015, just before our scheduled trip away, I’d been given the devastating news that I had breast cancer. At that point in time the hours and days passed in a blur, and understandably, driving over four hours in that state to the other end of the country on my own was not a good idea – so my fab hubby ‘dropped me off there’ (you can read more about this here in my post Hope).

This time, the journey back up to the Peak District was a poignant one and many things along the way prompted memories to come flooding back to me. I remembered exactly how I felt being a passenger in the car on the way up there, not knowing what was ahead of me, anxious and scared sh*tless. So, so many thoughts rushing about in my mind, trying to make sense of it all and what the future had in store for me.

Amongst all these thoughts and memories as I drove, it also struck me at what a long time it took to get there! My darling Pats had not only driven me there and then driven himself back home before, but he came and picked me up on the Sunday too! What an absolute angel. Friends had since commented on the fact that they didn’t think their other halves would do such a thing for them. I’m sure they would.  I know how lucky I am to have such a wonderful husband and in the sad and dark times it’s ever more apparent.

This time on my journey I felt positive and empowered. Thinking back to all that happened in the last two years and how different my life and my future ahead of me is now. Sad at the things that obviously just aren’t meant to be part of my life, but anticipating all the good things I have to look forward to enjoying.

I drove through some absolutely stunning scenery on the way there  – I don’t think I appreciated its full beauty on the first trip. If you’ve never been to the Peak District I would definitely recommend it, it’s got such beautiful character and charm. At one point I drove down this road that opened up to reveal the most incredible landscape – a carpet of green valleys, hills and peaks with snow capped mountains in the distance that met with the bright blue sky and brilliant sunshine.  I could not stop exclaiming  to myself out loud “wow”, “wow”, “woooooooow”! A perfectly beautiful day and a feeling of being blessed to be alive to see such a sight.


We enjoyed a fab weekend together, being pampered in the spa, eating delicious food, sipping bubbly, roaming around all the quaint little surrounding villages and reminiscing about the last time we were there.


Whilst we were away I had a little accident involving my iPhone, a selfie stick (yes, I’m afraid I am one of those annoying people with one!) and a swimming pool. Needless to say the water won and my dead iPhone is currently sitting in an iRescue kit drying out. I must confess to having quite bad nomophobia, so being without my phone has made me rather anxious as I’ve come to rely so heavily on it for so many things. Not least to stay connected to people, but most importantly is the reminder function on my phone. It literally is my actual memory.

My memory has never been that great, but since starting hormone treatment (namely Tamoxifen) it’s definitely got worse. I have to write everything down immediately otherwise it’s gone. It’s one of the genuine reasons why I have my phone attached to me most of the time (much to my husband’s annoyance!) so I can remember to do all the things I need to.

I have been lucky enough to form friendships with two other lovely ladies – connecting through writing our own blogs on breast cancer. Both have had their own struggles with the side effects of anti-hormone medication. My friend recently commented on her own concern about the mental effects of Tamoxifen and pointed me towards this rather alarming article, which we all agreed we could relate to.

I’m sure anyone taking Tamoxifen (and/or is going through the menopause) will be able to relate to these images. I have been that woman with phone to my ear…desperately searching for my phone!

I sincerely hope my iPhone dries out and comes back to life, not least because I’m gutted to think I’ve lost a load of photos, notes and other data, but so that I can get my virtual memory back!!

Fundraising for breast cancer charity | The Haven

I haven’t had as much time for posting blogs these days so this one is actually a little dated, but I wanted to post this before 2016 is out. As this year has progressed (and now rather alarmingly is drawing to a close) I have attempted to push myself to try new things and experiences. They’re not quite on par with jumping out of aeroplanes or climbing up mountains (yet!) but smaller things, that in my own way are pushing the boundaries a little.

Earlier on this year I had been attending The Haven’s Younger Women Breast Cancer support group, a valuable support mechanism which has enabled me to connect with women of my age in my local area. A few months ago, just before I started my new job, some of the ladies at the group were talking about a fashion show that the charity was putting on to raise money. They said it would be a fun way to help them and we could all have a bit of a giggle together.

Anyone who wanted to volunteer to be a model had to fill out an application form stating why they wanted to take part. I thought and thought about it – this is not normally the sort of thing I’d be up for – parading around on a stage in front of lots of people. But I thought, oh sod it, what the heck – what’s the worst that could happen?! 

I filled out my form saying what a brilliant opportunity it would be to be fundraise and give something back to The Haven. This charity has been there for me in some of my toughest moments and have supported me so much over the last year (including free counselling sessions, relaxing reflexology treatments and their friendly support group).  The show was also exactly one year to the day that I finished my last chemotherapy treatment in 2015. As it was a poignant date, I felt that spending it doing something positive would also feel like I was sticking two fingers up to the cancer. It would also be a lovely way to connect with the other ladies through the support group in a positive way and to have some fun!

I’ve struggled to motivate myself to get back into shape since finishing treatment and this was also a great goal for me to work towards as exercise had firmly fallen off my radar. A few weeks after submitting my application form, I received an email to say I’d been selected as one of the models! I was pleased, excited and VERY nervous. 

This was the kick up the proverbial I needed and I started running again – something I’ve not done for a couple of years. Although I don’t think my creaky knees will thank me for it, it felt so good to be out running in the fresh air. It was hard, but also so rewarding to see a few pounds drop off the scales and I started to feel fitter again. 

I invited friends and family to come along to the fashion show evening where there would be shopping, pampering, mini make-overs, crafts, gifts as well as a free Clinique goody bag on the night. I was touched when so many people said they would come along, their support meant so much and it was kind of them to give up their time. 

As the weeks flew by I tried to cram in exercise where I could and because so many people had bought tickets I knew I definitely couldn’t back out of this! 

glitz and glamour.png

When the day arrived, I got to the venue to discover a huge brightly lit stage with lots of people milling around. I spotted a familiar face amongst a group of ladies, another lady from the support group, and went and joined her. We then went through a dress rehearsal  – I literally hadn’t given it a moment’s thought about what I might actually do when I got up on the stage (which sounds so stupid!). The organiser said “Walk to the end, do your ‘mannequin pose’ and keep walking up and down …” We had to do this for as long as it took them to read out the description we’d sent in about ourselves. I hadn’t realised that when we were asked to send this wording in, I would have to keep walking up and down the stage whilst they read it out – I’d sent in three flipping paragraphs!! 

The rehearsal was amusing as the speakers who were introducing the models and describing what clothing we were wearing seemed to get it all mixed up. “This is Alice, she is 21 …” as a young boy walked down the cat walk. “This is 12-year old Jack…” as an older lady walked out. It was hilarious and certainly helped to quash the nerves, but I did wonder what on earth this was going to come across like to our paying audience?! Oh well, it’s for charity I thought to myself. 

I connected with two other lovely ladies from the Haven that evening and we nervously laughed together whilst getting ready and waiting back stage to make our entrance. One of the ladies should have been in front of me in the line up, but because she’d been in the scene immediately before, she was still getting changed and wasn’t ready.  This meant that as I walked out the words the speakers were reading out were about her and not me. There were big cheers from my fab friends and family in the audience as I entered the stage and I was described as “This is Shanna, she is mother to an 8-year old and is a zoo keeper…” Hilarious! I was trembling so much. This is not me, I did the best I could and exited the stage. 


Some of the words that were meant to be read for me at the fashion show:

I have been utterly overwhelmed by the love, kindness, encouragement, generosity and support that I’ve received from my amazing hubby, family and friends.  I am truly blessed and lucky to have such kind, caring and beautiful souls in my life – THANK YOU.

We helped raise over £5,000 that evening and whilst it was a very embarrassing experience, I was proud to be able to support this fantastic charity and was so grateful for my family and friends’ generosity and support. 

After the show ended, we congratulated ourselves and swapped telephone numbers so we could keep in touch. I went to chat with my friends and family who had come along. Some of the girls had all dorned pink bows especially…so sweet of them! Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to chat to everyone who kindly came along. 

That weekend we travelled up north to meet up with two lovely friends who I have met through writing this blog. The date had been in the diary for months, and after a particularly challenging week at work it couldn’t have come at a better time. The opportunity to spend time with others who appreciate the stresses of living with what is this new “normal”.

img_9264We had a wonderful weekend together catching up and sharing some laughs. We also shared experiences of the challenges we are all facing living with the after effects of having cancer. Our hubbies also joined us on this trip and it was good for them to connect and for us to all meet together. You can read Rosemary’s brilliant post about this in her blog The Superheroes of the (cancer) storm.

As we prepare to see out this year and start afresh again in 2017, I find myself thinking back to this time last year – daily trips to the hospital getting zapped by radiotherapy, starting the anti hormone treatment that left me an emotional wreck and wearing a wig having so little hair of my own.

How life has changed. This year has been challenging in so many ways – the relief of finishing treatment but then dealing with the unexpected aftermath that your mind and body is left in after a cancer storm rips through you. Being made redundant and being thrown out into the job market at a point in my recovery when what I really needed was looking after, nurturing and support. The very real and frightening ‘has it come back?’ scares and being transported straight back to that horrid memory of the year before. Scans. Needles. Waiting.  Plus more time in hospital having surgery to remove the unknown mass from my lung area (which thankfully turned out to be benign).

But the best thing about this year has been getting my life back – it’s been the polar opposite of last year. Even though there have still been many hospital and doctor’s appointments, I’ve been lucky to be able to go to so many fab places and have had so much fun with my hubby, friends and family – making memories and having lots of laughs.

The icing on the cake at the end of this year has been a very kind and generous donation from a dear friend of mine to Breast Cancer Care, one of the charities I’ve been fundraising for this year. I’m absolutely overwhelmed and bowled over by their generosity and selflessness and know how much this money will benefit other ladies.

£3,325 raised for Breast Cancer Care to support people affected by breast cancer

On 14thOctober, I organised a Big Pink Friday event at my work (Nviro in Portsmouth) for Breast Cancer Care – the only UK-wide specialist breast cancer support charity.

bccbigpink1-alliemoonjourney-copyWe were delighted to be able to raise over £325 from our dress down, cake sale and raffle prize draw. My colleagues really got into the spirit of the day by baking cakes and paying  money to dress in pink – adorning themselves with sparkly crowns, deely boppers, wigs and cowboy hats. There was also an award for the ‘Best Dressed in Pink’ which went to our regional director with his fetching pink golf trousers, shirt and tie combo!

I know that a lot of cancer patients and survivors absolutely detest the pink season of breast cancer awareness month. Greedy companies getting on the band wagon making money out of pink branded products. Downplaying the subject and not really raising awareness. I do completely understand how these people feel about the ‘fluffy pink brigade’. However, having been through my own cancer experience, Breast Cancer Care were a massive support to me through a very distressing period of my life and I was very keen to fundraise for them and be able to give something back to this amazing charity.

Breast Cancer Care were there for me in so many ways and I cannot thank them enough. Through the many calls I made to their supportive helpline (0808 800 6000), the myriad of useful and easy to digest information booklets and their forum that enabled me to connect with, and gain support from, other cancer patients at all times of the day and night. Their Someone Like Me service put in touch with two vey kind volunteers – people who had been given a similar diagnosis and treatment plan – who let me talk through my fears and worries and who completely understood my personal concerns. I also used their Ask the Nurse service which is useful if you’d rather not speak to someone on the phone. You can email questions to their specialist nurses and quickly receive information back in writing.

As I’ve written about in a previous post, I also attended a free two-day Younger Women Together event in Bristol which is aimed specifically at women aged 20-45 who have been diagnosed with primary breast cancer. I learnt a lot from the sessions they hosted and benefited from connecting with other women of my age who had similar experiences. Because I lived more than two hours away from the venue, Breast Cancer Care also kindly covered the cost of my hotel stay for the night before the event and the following night.

I also attended their Moving Forward course as I was approaching the end of my treatment. This free four-week programme covered topics such as healthy eating, exercise, managing menopausal symptoms, lymphoedema, cancer fatigue, intimacy and relationships and adjusting and adapting after a diagnosis of breast cancer. It was also good to connect with other ladies and relate to all the side effects and issues we faced.

Back in January time, the BBC journalist, Victoria Derbyshire, was undergoing chemotherapy treatment and through her diaries she detailed her account of losing her hair. A couple of months prior to this I had signed up to be a Media Volunteer for Breast Cancer Care and was approached through them by the Daily Mirror. In support of Victoria’s diaries, they were running a piece on ladies who had lost their hair from breast cancer treatment and asked if I would be interested in sharing my own experience about losing my hair.

At this point in time I was just reaching the end of radiotherapy and my active treatment and combined with starting my Zolodex injections, I was emotionally all over the place and it was a very distressing point for me. In hindsight, I’m not sure I would have agreed to do it had I have been in a better frame of mind. I felt hesitant at first, but really wanted to be able to help other women who were going through a similar situation and also help promote the charity, so I agreed to be interviewed.

Other than my hubby and my best mate, I didn’t tell anyone about the article, after all I clearly wasn’t doing it for fame purposes and I don’t really like the photos of myself in it with little or no hair. As it turned out the Daily Mail ran the article too and a few people from work then contacted me to say that they’d read the article and congratulated me on doing it as well as passing on their well wishes. Whilst this was clearly going in a national newspaper, for some reason I didn’t really consider that people I knew might see it (yes, I know how silly that sounds now!).

Now, as I have finished my more active treatment and life has returned to ‘normal’, I use Breast Cancer Care’s services much less. I do now receive their free regular Vita magazine which I’d recommend to other breast cancer patients/survivors to subscribe to.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Unfortunately it is a disease that has touched many of our lives in some way, whether it’s through a friend or loved one being diagnosed, or through our own personal encounter. As October is now coming to a close and breast cancer awareness month ends for another year, despite all the pink fan fare, ultimately every penny raised through events like this will help Breast Cancer Care and other charities to continue to support anyone affected by breast cancer.

Fiona West, Fundraising Officer at Breast Cancer Care, added: “We’re so grateful to Nviro for holding a Big Pink event in aid of Breast Cancer Care. With the help of supporters like Nviro we can provide care, support and information to anyone affected by breast cancer. An estimated 691,000 people in the UK are currently living with a breast cancer diagnosis so there has never been such an urgent need for our support services.”


I was very touched by some of the kind donations I received for our raffle and would like to personally thank everyone who bought tickets and to the following supporters for their generosity and great prizes: Lucy Alderton (Cable-Talk UK), Deborah Queen (Estee Lauder), Jeff Whiley (JM2 Support Services), Kirsten Lewry (K’s Wooden Crafts), Karen Font-Garcia (Golden Light Reiki School), Jacqueline Snow (Love Snowberry), Monica Kelleway and Elanor Clarke. Also huge thanks goes to my very dear friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) for the very generous and kind donation to this charity helping us raise a whopping total of over £3,325.

It’s not too late to make a donation! Click here to donate online, or alternatively you can text  ‘BIGP95’ and the amount you wish to donate to 70070 (e.g. ‘BIGP95 £95).

Click here to find out more about Breast Cancer Care and the care, support and information they provide.

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