I’m sure you’ve heard by now that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I’ve been pondering this because it’s 3 years since my diagnosis and treatment, and I don’t really talk about my cancer journey any more.
I feel like I ‘ought’ to say something but I don’t know what.
I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve gained from the experience as well as what I’ve lost.
It took a long time (almost a year) to fully recover from the operation and then the radiotherapy which really wiped me out.
When I was diagnosed, I decided straight away that I was going to be open and honest about my experiences. There’s so much fear and negative energy around cancer (not surprisingly) and I wanted to create space and provide opportunities for people to share their thoughts and feelings. You can read my earlier articles on breast cancer HERE.
I was shocked to discover that I knew SO many women who were living or had lived with breast cancer. SO many. It’s so common.
And of course I’ve become part of a community of people living with cancer and the sad thing is that every day, there’s somebody who is no longer with us.
It had a big impact on us as a family, especially my daughters – not only did mum get cancer, but a few weeks later, dad was at death’s door. I can’t imagine how hard that was for my daughters.
Very often when you have cancer, you’re the one supporting others as well as trying to take care of yourself. I found that so many times when I was telling others about my diagnosis. I’d had time to get used to the news and it felt like I was going through the “you’ve got cancer” news over and over, when I told somebody else.
My cancer journey forced me to take a long hard look at how I was living my life.
What breast cancer gave me
It motivated me to do more of the work I love and that brings me joy.
It encouraged me to spend less time working and more time relaxing.
It inspired me to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.
It taught me that there are some incredibly kind and thoughtful people in the world.
It showed me how strong and resilient I am.
I discovered the power of gratitude.
I learned to live with love.
What breast cancer took away from me
But it also messed up my running and fitness levels – now working on that.
It hurt my children.
It took away part of the physical me.
Why it’s important to reflect on living with breast cancer
Now, 3 years later, apart from the daily Tamoxifen and the aches and pains where I had the cancer removed, I’ve almost ‘forgotten’ I had cancer.
It’s important to reflect on living with breast cancer – to give others hope. To know that being diagnosed doesn’t have to be the end of the world. And that there will always be something positive to be gained from the experience, even if you don’t see it at the time.
But also to raise awareness about breast cancer so that more people get diagnosed and treated at an earlier stage.
Please – if you’re offered a mammogram, don’t delay. Get your appointment booked and show up on the day, no matter how scary that might feel.