I recently posted pictures of my new prosthesis on social media and it caused a stir. My "selfie-esteem" was bolstered by "likes" and smiling emojis, but offline I was asked why I wanted to share something so personal and that maybe these things should be hidden away...
When IS the right time to drop the breast cancer bomb? A breast cancer diagnosis can shatter relationships and put younger children at risk of vulnerability. For a woman who is encouraged to 'move on' a simple track does not exist.
I hope through sharing this we can help other women in similar situations. I know I can only speak for myself and I was lucky enough that the nipple-sparing surgery still enabled me to keep some resemblance of what was previously there, but if my experience helps one woman feel slightly better about their future or less scared then I will be happy.
I was on a course recently where we were asked to introduce ourselves by sharing a memorable date. With a sinking heart, I thought frantically - When did I pass my driving test? Move into my own home? I thought about my first date with my partner - 13th February, twenty-or-so years ago, but really, who wants to admit to having the equivalent of their wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day? (Reader, I didn't marry him).
If I were one of Hamilton's horses, I may well have stampeded over some of the individuals who have played a part in my medical care. But my surgeon, I'd have been eating out of his hand.
After I finished treatment I felt under an enormous amount of pressure to be 'normal' and 'happy' again and for life to go back to how it was before I had cancer. I was keenly aware that treatment had been just as tough on my fiancé and family as it had been on me and I was desperate to protect them from any more anguish and worry.
My love of coordinated lingerie is perhaps only one step away from my Mother's entreaties to wear clean pants in case of an accident, even though I would hazard a guess that just before impact it's not just brakes that skid in any road traffic accident.
When Mair was diagnosed our world fell apart because of the uncertainty that this threw up. Having never heard of anyone being diagnosed with cancer in pregnancy before, let alone be treated for it, we were worried. Would it affect the baby? Could we even continue with the pregnancy?
I have been inundated with people on my Twitter feed who have had similar letters, due to having no cervix or not breasts since I posted this online. So I felt I should speak up. It does appear this isn't a one off or a confined to a small amount of people.
My role as a senior nurse on Macmillan's Support Line is to provide information and support to anyone who calls us with worries about cancer. So read on for my top facts about breast cancer in men, the symptoms to look out for and what to do if you think you might be affected.
The good news is that secondary breast cancer can be treated. The bad news is that it can't be cured. Treatment aims to slow down the spread of disease, to relieve symptoms and give the best possible quality of life, for as long as possible.
Being diagnosed with cancer is like being catapulted into another world - the Land of Illness - unlike Mordor, the landscapes are bleached and bright, but just as dangerous. It's a world ruled by men and women wearing white coats, speaking a foreign language, with unfamiliar rules - bad things happen to good people. Unsurprisingly, we are desperate to leave.
It is now over a year since I completed what is termed "active treatment". Now I hate to seem ungrateful but however delighted I am to be alive, I would still welcome a head of hair without a bald patch, eyebrows that do not need drawing on each day and eyelashes that reach a lash count in excess of ten.
Today, my friend revealed to me that her breast cancer had metastasised to her spine and pelvis. I felt like I had been thrown off a cliff, yet I was standing. I wanted to turn back time, but is that resilience? I wanted to scream and cry but I had promised my six year old daughter to practice her dance moves. 'Mummy, let's start dancing', she said. But how could I?
By February 2011, I had not had a period for over a year which, according to online information meant I was officially 'post-menopausal.' My body, however, had other ideas and my periods returned, ending up in a reversed menstrual cycle - a three-week period, with one week off. It was hellish.
Three separate doctors told me that the risks were too high, my breast cancer surgeon told me the same but I wouldn't give up hope and stopped and started my treatment over the past 7 years to try and get pregnant, without success.