I'd badly broken my leg 5 months previously and was seeing my GP about a return to my job as a high school Librarian. As I was about to leave I casually asked if she could have a quick look at my left breast, as it seemed to have flattened somewhat in shape. She examined me, said that she thought she could feel a lump within the breast and referred me immediately to our local Breast Cancer Unit.
Fast forward two weeks and I was diagnosed with a 7cm tumour in my left breast and a 3cm tumour in my lymph node area also. Biopsies confirmed that these tumours were in the 10-15% classed as 'Triple Negative'. This means the growth of the cancer is not fuelled by the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, or by the HER2 protein. Consequently, long term targeted hormone therapies like Tamoxifen are not effective treatments.
I started treatment within a couple of weeks with a FEC-T chemotherapy regime. My family and I found this tough. I had several hospitalisations and my body and soul took a huge battering!
I'm a mum to two wonderful children. 12 year old Ruby and Daniel who will soon be 7. Daniel was only 5 at the time of my diagnosis and took on board as much as he needed to. At that age, I found as long as he still had all his needs met and lots of cuddles/mummy time, he generally coped quite well.
Ruby initially struggled with my hair loss. For as long as I can remember I had always had 'big' hair, long and brunette with lots of curls, so seeing me lose this was a massive shock for her. I had amazing support from my Breast Care Nurse Gemma, in ways to talk with Ruby about my breast cancer as well as age-appropriate resources we could read through together.
I found honesty and openness to be the best policy (as is always the case!) and Ruby showed the most amazing resilience. She encouraged me to be proud of how I looked, to not wear wigs etc and just be 'aux naturale'. She would give me regular reminders that I was beautiful. I've always tried to model positively and so her support empowered me to believe that, despite feeling like I'd been stripped of so much, I was still "enough".
In March this year I had a left side mastectomy and full node clearance, then followed by 3 weeks of breast and neck radiotherapy.
As I tested positive for the faulty BRCA 2 gene, a few days ago I had a risk-reducing right mastectomy and next month will be having a bilateral Salpingo-Oophrectomy to further reduce my risk of ovarian cancer.
I made the decision not to have breast reconstruction surgery and live flat. I'm still in the early stages of accepting my changed body shape. That said, I'm only just 45, have always invested in my underwear and so still want the option to wear beautiful lingerie sets, post surgery.
The LoveRose collection will give me a wonderful alternative to the 'oh so beige' post surgery lingerie commonly seen on our high street, and give me confidence in moving forward with this 'new me'!