I found a lump in my breast quite by accident. I was just resting my arms on my breasts and it must have been just the right spot because I felt it straight away. I still beat myself up a bit because I should have checked regularly but at least I found it by accident.
My diagnosis took about two months from me finding my lumps to the words “it’s cancer.” This is due to a couple of reasons – I had just moved house so needed to register with the doctors surgery and get an appointment. Following that, my doctor sent my referral to the wrong place. I continuously chased it up because I was worried. In the end I went to the Breast Care Clinic in the hospital I work in to discuss it with them directly. I’m a nurse so I decided to go in in my uniform, thinking it might get me seen sooner. The nurse in the unit was incredibly helpful and followed it up and I was booked in on a Saturday, which was a relief.
They did all the tests in the unit on the same day, which I was surprised about but pleased. I had an ultrasound, a mammogram then a biopsy. I asked the doctor doing the tests ‘in your experience, what do you think about the lump?’ I knew should couldn’t tell me much because we had to wait for test results to confirm but she replied, ‘it’s not good.’
I spent the next ten days disbelieving anything was wrong until I had my appointment with my surgeon. I had a quick sneak peek at the papers open on her desk and saw the word ‘carcinoma’ but I needed to hear it from her. She broke the news gently that I had triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma breast cancer.
I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to ask for support. Luckily my boyfriend filled in the referral form from YouCan for me. Natalie from YouCan called me and asked how exactly the charity could be of help to me. She then listed all the things they could provide. I’ve had various types of support over the past year or so.
Whilst having chemotherapy YouCan organised for me to have reflexology in my flat. It was really good and I really liked it. Before the reflexology session I felt extremely sick from treatment. The actual session was very relaxing and made me feel very nice. After the session I fell asleep for two hours and woke up feeling refreshed and energised. Unfortunately I had to stop reflexology when I started the second type of chemotherapy as it made my feet sore and sensitive. Now chemo is over my feet still feel quite numb but I know if I wanted to try reflexology again through YouCan I could. Overall, it made me feel really nice, relaxed and re-energised, which is something I didn’t think I would feel whilst having chemotherapy.
I felt like I was isolating myself during treatment so YouCan offered me some CBT sessions. It helped me figure out a few things that were not clicking in my head. I was worrying a lot about things I didn’t need to. My CBT therapist helped me learn how to not worry about the irrelevant stuff. I felt like my treatment was what I should be worrying about but I was just thinking about trivial things. CBT helped my put my thoughts back in the right place.
I also went to Freddie’s Friends, YouCans support group, during treatment. I met a member at a Look Good Feel Better workshop and she invited me along. I knew about the support group but had been to ill to attend previously so I’m really glad she reminded me about it and invited me along. The group has been really helpful for me, particularly at that stage of my treatment because I felt very isolated. I didn’t know anyone else my age going through cancer and that was difficult. Through going to the group I felt supported and I knew I wasn’t alone.
YouCan have held some coffee mornings that I have been able to attend when I’ve felt up for it. It was good to get me out the house. I get stuck indoors sometimes so it’s good to get out and meet people on days I have nothing else on.
More recently I have started attending the YouCan Boot Camp classes. Now I’m starting to get a bit more energy back I want to build on that. Boot Camp is a good way to get back in shape and build up my stamina after the horrible effects of chemo.
I’m hoping to go to Hinton House in the summer. I’m really looking forward to a relaxed week away that is going to get me out of reality. It’s by the sea and the sea is quite calming for me, the relaxing scenery is too.
What I like about YouCan is the fact is it’s a small charity. Everyone knows everyone and it’s nice to know I can pop into the office any time or call up and chat to the girls in the office if I need to, particularly Natalie. It’s great how involved she is with all of us, you don’t often get to speak to the head of the charity. Everyone at YouCan has made me feel supported and not alone throughout this year. They have provided me with things I needed and tried to be there for me as much as possible.