SAM'S CANCER JOURNEY
FOUNDER OF SAM'S DIAMONDS
FINDING A LUMP
In August 2012 my Cancer journey began. I noticed a small lump in my breast whilst showering. At first I thought it was just as a result of having a baby a year ago. I went to the doctors and I was referred to the hospital for tests. At this point I wasn’t really worried as a bad thing like cancer couldn’t happen to me; I thought it was probably a cyst!
After numerous scans, 2 biopsies and a mammogram, I was called in, straight away to speak to the specialist at the hospital. He called a Macmillan breast care nurse in to support the consultation. He could not say if it was cancer or not, until the results came back in 2 WEEKS! My gut told me it was, due to the Macmillan nurse declaring she was there for me and how the specialist detailed any post diagnosis treatment.
The next 2 weeks were the worst of my life!!! I didn’t know if I actually had it, if it was treatable, how far on it was? Was it anywhere else in my body? Will I be here next year? Playing with my children (ages 1, 4, 8) was so painful and the thought of never meeting my grandchildren one day killed me!!
When we received the results I just prayed that it was nowhere else in my body as I had read that this gave me significantly different chances of getting through it. It turned out it WAS cancer and it had spread to the lymph glands under the armpit. Left any longer it would have gone around my body!!
At this point I found Runcorn and Widnes Cancer support. Throughout this whole experience, I don’t think I would have been able to remain as positive as I have around my family and friends, if they hadn’t been there. They offered me counselling, beauty treatments, activity classes and courses to keep me going. They even allowed us all to stay at their beautiful respite caravan in Wales, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. This was a great release. Most of all they were always there with an open door, a positive outlook and a cup of tea. I feel that they have been invaluable during my treatment and recovery.
From the start of November I had 8 cycles (every 3 weeks) of chemotherapy which resulted in all my hair falling out, (no eyebrows/lashes!!!) extreme tiredness and extremely low immune system. This meant that I had to stay away from work due to all of the bugs that exist in a secondary school.
During this time, I was told that around the end of July my treatment was due to be finished (all going well). As there was no certainty for time frames or guarantees that the treatment would work, I desperately needed something to head for, an end date. I decided to register for the Race for Life. I was going to complete this race no matter what!!! This was my goal, this is how I knew I was going to put two fingers up to my cancer and show it I will win!
A few weeks after the chemotherapy had finished, I had a full mastectomy operation to remove the breast and 15 lymph glands from the arm pit. I know a lot of women are severely affected by this. I was just so glad to finally get the cancer off me. As far as I was concerned my breast had done its job in providing for three children, no more were planned. I complained about the state they were in anyway, so to lose one didn’t really matter to me.
It was around this time I started to meet a few people at the hospital with secondary cancer and those that had been given the worst news ever. This had a detrimental effect on my psyche and my Cancer journey suddenly became really hard again.
I had 25 sessions of radiotherapy at Clatterbridge Hospital. It was a 2 hour round trip. I had to travel over there each weekday for five weeks. Fatigue became a permanent resident.
THE END WAS IN SIGHT!
With a week left of my radiotherapy sessions, my day had finally arrived. With 34 family, friends and their children in tow, we completed the Race for Life. The unbelievable feeling of love and support felt on that day will stay with me forever. With everyone chanting my name, as I crossed that line with my children in hand, I did it!!! There were tears everywhere! We all did it!!!! In total we all raised over £2000 for Cancer Research. I felt so blessed to have such great family and friends.
I have now been told that there are no signs of cancer left for now. I will remain on tablets for the next 5 – 10 years to try to help prevent it coming back.
Throughout this experience I have been shocked by number of people I have met, who have either had breast cancer or who know someone who has had it. It is so common, but so easy to stop in its tracks if found early. I am embarrassed by my ignorance to this disease before my diagnosis. The “it will never happen to me!” attitude does not work!!!!! I have been blessed to come out the other side. Although I know the fight is not over, the immediate threat is!