Friday 28 Jan 2022
Maggie's Forth Valley
When I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, I’d only just turned 26. It was straightaway secondary, in my liver and in my bones. It was aggressive, and I was told I would be lucky if I would live for two to three years.
In the first few months after my diagnosis, it all felt really wrong. I remember just being petrified.
But when you start to see other people, your mindset starts to change.
I remember seeing Lesley Stephens in a few things, magazines and videos.
She was from Maggie’s in Edinburgh. And she was in a very similar situation to me, except her diagnosis was a year before. I saw her, and how she was going on and on and on, with a really good quality of life.
And I just thought, “Well, this could be me”.
So I took heart. Seeing her made me go from the situation where I was petrified going to every scan, thinking I’d be told I had six months to live, to a position of hope.
To being positive. I started giving myself small challenges, little milestones to reach and make sure I made.
Financial advice from Maggie’s made me realise I could afford to give up work, so I did.
I turned then to getting what I wanted to out of life.
Support from a psychologist at the centre gave me the space I needed to talk about death and dying.
It gave me a place I could feel safe, and where I could be honest.
"Maggie's gave me a platform to take life on."
A lot of that initially was travel. I was just thinking I had two or three years, so I went to Australia in 2016 with my sister and two friends.
I’ve travelled in Italy.
But it became about challenges. I did the Stirling marathon. I loved that: probably one of the most special days of my life. I’d always wanted to do it, and there I was completing a marathon.
Learning instruments, getting a puppy, learning how to make homemade pizzas.
And then I got married: not that it was on my bucket list, falling in love.
I was quite guarded with myself initially, but I met a man who I loved, and we went from there.
Restaurants, food, culture – there’s just been no holding me back. I’ve just gone for it.
Since I was first told, it’s been six years now, and I’ve achieved so much.
I’ve done more in this period of my life than I would have before, and maybe more than I would have in the rest of my life. I’ve found the joy of living.
Live for the moment is what I’d say. It's easy to put things off and think you can do that next year, or even do that next month.
But you've got to be able to enjoy what you've got. Your life, your family, your things.
If you or someone you love has cancer, Maggie's is with you.
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