The day before Christmas Eve, 2014, I was told I might have cancer. I’d found two little lumps in my breast and went to the hospital to get them looked at and biopsied. I was told I would have to come back the following week, once the biopsies had been looked at by the lab.
The doctor told me they were extremely worried they may be sinister. I was only 35. My two boys, William and Oliver, were five and seven at the time.
That night, after I put the boys to bed, I couldn’t stop going over what had just happened. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and wrapped presents instead. I wanted Christmas to be special for the boys, and as normal as possible so they didn’t think anything was wrong. But I couldn’t stop thinking I might never see another Christmas with my family.
The day before New Year's Eve I went back to the hospital and the doctor confirmed that the biopsies taken before Christmas showed I had cancer.
A couple of weeks later I had to have a CT scan. It was the day before my 36th birthday. They found five tumours and the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.
Telling the boys was so hard. My youngest, William, asked me if I was going to die. That was horrendous. I told them we just had to get through the next few months.
I was told that before I could start chemotherapy, I’d have to have my breast and lymph nodes removed. I remember walking to the operating theatre and I just broke down. I wanted the cancer out of me, but I felt scared and it suddenly seemed to all sink in.
Maggie's helped me understand what was happening
I honestly can’t imagine what it would have been like to go through all this without Maggie’s. I remember the first time I went to the centre; my dad was with me and I just burst into tears; it felt like everyone was there to help me.
The staff helped me to understand what was happening and what treatment would be like, so I was able to prepare. They told me that the chemo I was going to have would probably leave me feeling really ill for a couple of days after I had it, so I knew to arrange with my parents to have them look after the boys so they wouldn’t see me looking really sick.
Going through treatment
The chemo made my hair fall out and stripped the lining of my mouth and digestive system so I could hardly eat anything without pain. I couldn’t believe that in just a few months, I’d gone from being a fit and healthy young woman to losing my breast and feeling sick and weak from chemotherapy.
I had to have several operations to reconstruct my breast and there were complications. I remember they put something in called a tissue expander, which slowly stretches the skin in preparation for the reconstruction. When I woke up after the operation the pain was awful, and it took six months of treatment before the skin was ready for the main surgery.
I can’t imagine how I would have got through the exhaustion of chemo and the pain and worry of those operations without Maggie’s. Even after treatment, Maggie’s helped me to manage side effects and gave me the support I needed to get back into a normal life and back to work.
Donate to help Maggie's support more families this Christmas
I’ll never forget what it was like to wonder if I’d live to see my sons grow up and if we’d have more family Christmases together.
For some, this really will be their last Christmas together, and many others will spend it worrying that it will be.
Support from Maggie’s can make such a difference for people facing cancer, and it’s only available because of people like you making sure they are there for every person who needs and relies on them.
To make sure they are there for everyone who needs help this Christmas, please consider a donation to support Maggie’s and people like me and my family.