Before I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, I was a freelance internal communications consultant. I was like many Mums out there who have so many spinning plates, but that’s just life.
I had an awful cough and cold which wouldn’t go away. I just put it down to having my hands full caring for my four children.
Eventually, a CT scan showed that I had breast cancer, and it had already spread to my bones, liver and lungs.
I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to hear you’ve got incurable cancer.
I fell into a dark hole of grief, worried I wouldn’t see any of those important milestones you take for granted – seeing your children leave school, go to university, get married, all that kind of stuff.
I’ve had so much treatment: cycle after cycle of chemo, radiotherapy for brain tumours. I was lucky enough to get a place on a clinical trial. Tumours on my lungs had left me so breathless I couldn’t climb the stairs but my reaction to the drug was incredible.
Five years on though, with the discovery of another tumour on my right lung, it looks like my time on the trial may be up fairly soon and that’s pretty frightening.
The first time I visited Maggie’s I thought, “Do I have to pay somebody? Is there a bucket I have to put money in?” I remember looking around and there was nothing. It was all free.
The first person I met was Andy, the Centre Head. It was a real turning point. What he said lifted my spirits and gave me hope.
Over the next weeks and months, I continued to see Andy regularly. He gave me advice about how to sleep better during chemo, how to manage the side effects of the steroids I was on.
It was Andy who explained how to ask the consultants the right questions, and it was Andy who gave me the confidence to ask my oncologist about clinical trials.
I still rely on Maggie’s for help and advice. I always come away with a sense of hope. When you’ve got advanced cancer, that’s what you want – hope. That’s what I always get from Maggie’s.
Talking to Evie
Evie is my youngest. I took her to Maggie’s to meet Andy when she was eight.
I remember her saying, “Is Mummy going to die?” to which Andy replied, “Yes she is going to die, but nobody knows when that will happen – the doctors don’t know, she doesn’t know, I don’t know.”
Evie just thanked him. On the way home, she said she liked Andy because he told her the truth.
The support I have received
I have survived for so long and fought to try and educate myself. I firmly believe the more I know about my cancer, the more in control I feel.
But I do feel scared about how I will feel when I run out of choices, and I’ve chatted to Andy about this.
He hopes when I reach that point, I will feel relief, knowing there are no more awful treatments. I won’t have to constantly put on a brave face, which is what I tend to do for my family. I never want to burden them with how I’m feeling.
I’m hoping he’s right and that relief, not fear, will be the main emotion.
I can’t really imagine life without Maggie’s. I think I would be lost. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’d still be here.
The team at Maggie’s gave me the confidence to look into clinical trials, and this one has given me almost six years of life I didn't expect to have.
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