Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Living with the C Word

2015 has been a year of promise for me so far. After finishing at my old job, I secured a new job at an award winning law firm as a Marketing Executive. I've been enjoying life and to be honest I've neglected my blog, my last post was a good 6 months ago but it’s not without reason.

2014 was a big celebratory year for me as I graduated with a 2:1 from The University of Huddersfield, turned 21 and managed to secure my first job a month after graduation. My life was running smoothly along and then all of a sudden my 2014 ended with a bang, an unimaginable bang I couldn’t possibly explain without tears drawing to my eyes as I type. My mum, aged 61 was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I was unprepared for the news I received on my lunch break at work. All day I sat worrying at my desk frantically typing away waiting for the good news from my parents. I received a text from my dad saying we need to talk and I just thought it was to confirm that everything was ok.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. I took the call in the back room at my works and as soon as I heard my mum’s broken voice stammering the words ‘I've got breast cancer’. I broke down in uncontrollable tears. I could hear the fear in her voice as she told me the bad news. My life had been turned upside down for the worst.

Of course we hear all these news reports about people getting all kinds of cancer but I never imagined my mum would get it. Breast cancer doesn't run in the family but perhaps I was a bit naive thinking it won’t happen to me or any of my family. If we all listened to the scary statistic that 1 in 5 people get a form of cancer in their lifetime, we would never sleep at night.

The last few months of 2014 were a blurry haze which meant I didn’t feel like doing a blog post, or anything else for that matter. On December 5th my mum had a mastectomy to remove her right breast and the surgeons believe her cancer had been there a good while as all of her lymph nodes had been affected and the cancer growth was 11cm by the time they removed it.

I watched as the gurney wheeled her down to surgery on the Friday morning and I couldn’t help but cry as she left the room. A few hours after surgery, she was losing too much blood and the same day she had to go back down to theatre.

Luckily my mum has made a good recovery after surgery, but this is the toughest road ahead. The odd few people may not need any treatment after the tumour is removed; however my mum has to face 6 months of chemotherapy followed by 3 weeks of radiotherapy.

At the moment she’s had her third treatment of chemotherapy and I’m not going to lie and say it’s great because the side effects of chemo are gruelling. About a month back she started to lose her hair, and she decided to shave it off as a result of this which was traumatic enough.

At first every time I heard the C word my stomach churned into knots, I clammed up and wanted to run away from everyone. I couldn’t bear to face it so I locked my feelings inside and threw away the key.

I’m coming out today about my mum’s illness because I've sat here long enough in silence. I wanted to share my story and tell everyone about my mum’s journey because although she probably doesn't feel it, she’s the lucky one.

I want to urge other women to check their breasts every day for lumps and bumps and don’t hesitate to go to your GP if you do find something or need a second opinion. A mammogram is currently offered for women aged 50-70 every three years. The mammogram didn’t show any signs of her 11cm growth only the biopsy results showed this. I feel her cancer could have been caught earlier if a biopsy was offered to her at her last mammogram appointment three years ago.