Amongst a host of impacts, I was thrown into an unknown world of lingerie buying - post surgical bra land. For the uninitiated, this is a place you feel strangely ashamed to visit. It's hidden away, at the back of bright, inviting lingerie departments. The bras lurk sadly, hanging around looking baggy and apologetic; all they have to say for themselves is, "this is as good as it gets for you now girl, choose one."
You've probably seen them in the lingerie sections of department stores, on a display of lingerie accessories. Sometimes they're called chicken cutlets, chicken fillets, bra inserts, push-ups, gel pads, breast enhancers, shapers, or partials. But what are they for, exactly?
But, with our wedding now just weeks away, it is not the aisle that excites me as much as the fact I will be crossing the start line of the London Marathon by his side just hours later. I can think of no greater honour.
It's safe to say that society has accepted the body-mind-spirit connection, especially in times of stress and illness. Research is firmly behind the idea that one of the keys to all three is to take care of the first: the body. Scientists are now trying to determine specific ways that exercise improves the risks associated with cancer- before, during and after diagnosis.
With cancer, you have everything to lose. It can steal your loved ones, turn your skin to scars, crush your confidence and force you to stare in a mirror and not recognise the face staring back. And, in the case of breast cancer, if it spares your life, you must live in the fear that it might one day return unexpectedly to finish the job.
It just goes to show that cancer doesn't respect borders - it can happen to anybody, anywhere. If I can use my experience to support even one woman in Nigeria who wouldn't otherwise have access to the support they need, I'll be happy.
The 8th March marks International Women's Day, and I've been thinking about the different ways that women support each other during difficult times. I think back to how I drew strength from the women around me when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.
Eight years ago, I had a double mastectomy when I was just 35 years old. Four years later, I had my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. Yet I hadn't had a cancer diagnosis, or even signs or symptoms. This was purely an act of prevention.
When I think of the how breast cancer has affected me, the most imminent questions that come to my mind are: 1. Should the cancer have changed me? 2. For the worse AND the better? 3. What should my 'profile' look like? Stronger? Weaker? Both? If both, then how can weak and strong live together in harmony?
Because it's so gentle, swimming after breast surgery is an excellent way to exercise all your major muscle groups and avoid muscular atrophy that's sometimes seen in post-surgical patients who remain sedentary for prolonged periods. W
To the strangers who removed my breasts last week, thank you. Thank you for doing the job you do, which may well lead to me being alive for longer; to me spending more days and weeks and years with my family.
I've been a runner for many years. I've run marathons, parkruns and all distances in between. I had a year of running events planned to celebrate my 50th birthday in 2015 but that all unravelled when I found a lump in my breast, and was diagnosed with cancer.
Kadcyla is a wonder drug, keeping my lung tumours stable and healing the cancerous tumours in my spine to a point where there is No Evidence of Active Disease. I know others who've had similar amazing results, enabling them to return to work, care for their families, and contribute to society at large.
Today, I tried a new route. Along the river on the crisp icy grass, the sun glazing on my cheeks, I ran, my mind taking me forward, my feet following, slower on the bumps, making sure I was firmly grounded in the mud. Finding my balance, I wanted to protect myself from falling.
I had an ultrasound, biopsy and mammogram and went back into the waiting room for a while. Then I was called back into see the consultant and this time there was a lady sitting at the back of the room with a concerned look on her face.
I know that you're worried that this could be your last Christmas on this earth, but you thought that last year, and the year before. Life is a bitter-sweet gift - as Emily Dickinson said, "That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet" - and knowing this brings both sadness and joy.