I booked an appointment with my local GP following an innocuous but irritating jellyfish sting, what transpired completely changed the trajectory of my life and my family’s future.
Whilst there, the doctor decided I was due for a routine health check, during which the doctor noticed a small lump in my breast. I originally wasn’t overly concerned – I simply thought this was due to a blocked milk duct as I had just finished breast feeding my youngest daughter.
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
A series of tests resulted in my breast cancer diagnosis in January 2018 at 41 years old.
As a busy mum of three little girls, breast cancer was certainly not on the agenda and came as a huge shock to my entire family.
I began chemotherapy three weeks after my diagnosis. The six grueling rounds of chemotherapy that I endured left me broken, emotional and feeling hopeless. After finally completing them, I opted for a left mastectomy, lymph node clearance and had a tissue expander put in.
This surgery was followed by six more weeks of radiotherapy.
My treatment ended in October 2018 – it had been almost a whole year since my journey with breast cancer began and I felt immense relief at reaching this major milestone.
I struggled to decide what route to choose as far as surgery was concerned. Although I opted for a single mastectomy to get the cancer out, I have since made the decision to have a right mastectomy, double reconstruction and my ovaries removed to eliminate my risk of any future cancer. I made this somewhat radical choice so that I could be the healthiest version of myself, without living in fear of future cancer, instead looking towards a future of hope and happiness with my family.
I have spent my ‘cancer free’ year trying to live life as positively as I can. Focusing on the most important things including my children, husband, and maintaining my health and wellbeing.
Since my diagnosis I have finally learnt to say no. Before cancer I would always say ‘yes’ even when I really didn’t want to because I didn’t want to displease or upset anyone. But through my journey I have finally figured out the power of no and the brilliance of prioritising myself and my own needs.
I’ve made time for the things I love, like competitive netball and have started teaching again. I also started ocean swimming – something I always wanted to do but hadn’t made the time for prior to my diagnosis.
I have many more things that I want to achieve. Life is for living, and that’s what I intend to do. Understanding my risk and taking control of my future, means a lifetime of endless possibilities for me and my family.