By the time I found a lump in my breast the cancer had already spread to my lymph nodes. What might have happened, if I had checked myself more regularly? Who knows. I have decided there is no point in dwelling on it.
While there may sometimes be good oncological reasons for delaying reconstruction such as certain tumour types - the majority of women are suitable candidates for post-treatment reconstruction without delay. So why aren't they being offered this option as standard?
I thought it would be useful to share some of the emotions that I know many people go through when they first learn about their loved ones cancer diagnosis. I think it always helps to know that other people are going through the same feelings and experiences. So
Having a life threatening illness feels like being on the next level. You're not on earth because you're closer to death, but you're not quite in heaven either because you're still alive. You're on this strange limbo level. Mikey feels the same. Being told from the age of four that you could die at any moment and you might not make it past childhood is a lot to deal with.
And then everything fell apart. For the second time. The second time. Secondary. I can barely say the word let alone write it. The shock was immense. I was blindsided. How could it be back so silently and without warning?
Thanks to advances in medical care, the rate of survival in the UK has doubled over the last 40 years and around half of cancer patients survive for ten or more years. It is therefore important to appreciate that cancer can have lasting psychological effects extending beyond treatment and into remission.
Today, I am very lucky to be able to say that my cancer registers on my life via two little pills taken daily, and six monthly CT staging scans to check my metastatic disease is still behaving. So I'm not being hard-hearted and selfish when I say that Breast Cancer Awareness Month means less to me now.
Promoting body positivity is always a huge focus point for me. So championing the face of Hummingbird are not models, but real and relatable women that have fought their very own battle against breast cancer at least once in their life.
The summer of 2015 still seems a blur: I was on the emotional roller coaster that is cancer treatment. That May, aged 51, I had been called for a routine mammogram which showed signs of abnormal cellular activity - twinkling fragments of glitter on the computer screen staring back at me in the Consulting Room. I was dumbstruck and in shock...
You may need to make decisions about your treatment, particularly for cancer, but other illnesses too. To make rational decisions you MUST understand the numbers your doctor quotes. He won't deliberately mislead you, but statistical data can be confusing.
I'm a doctor, and I've had breast cancer. I learned a lot, about how I'd do things differently, and I want to share. So how can you reduce your breast cancer risk, or at least spot it early, if you do get it? Let's look at some facts.
To be unable to compete in the dance off because of something that has perhaps defined the last few years of her life, must have been devastating. The last thing she'll have needed was trolls from the dark corners of the internet (not to mention former pro dancers James and Ola Jordan) trying to bring her down. Her injury should be a reminder to people of why she signed up for the show in the first place, not a reason to attack her.
October is here. In previous years the only thing guaranteed to bring tears to my eyes would be the cost of getting my boiler fixed as I fired up my central heating. Now, since my breast cancer, there are two new things that annually make me weep: Strictly Come Dancing and Pinktober (Breast Cancer Awareness Month).
Every year, 50,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer. That's 50,000 mothers, daughters, grandmothers, sisters and friends. To highlight the importance of breast cancer awareness, The Huffington Post UK is running a month-long project throughout October, showcasing a series of features and videos that offer a new take on a disease which has plagued the human race for years and years. A disease which has taken countless lives, and will continue to do so, until we find a cure.
A turning point came when I discovered there were women like me, women who shared some of my feelings and worries. When C.S. Lewis wrote "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: 'What you, too? Thought I was the only one'" he could never have imagined the friendships which grow between people affected by cancer
I am a doctor and have had breast cancer. Mind you, this hardly makes me unique. There are over 53,000 women and 340 men diagnosed every year in the UK and we all have to negotiate the hospital system.