I was having a lazy Sunday, lying on the sofa, playing with my lovely daughter and this is when everything changed for me.
Evie and I were play-fighting and at one point she elbowed me in the chest, right on the nipple. It was surprisingly uncomfortable and later that night I felt a tiny lump on one side of my left nipple - it was really small, smaller than a pea.
The next morning I rang the GP. I didn't say anything to my wife, Claire, as I didn't want to worry her. My GP had a look and scratched her head. She didn't know what it was so referred me to a specialist just in case. A few days later I got a call from the breast care unit at our local hospital, asking me to come in the following week.
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. The consultant came straight out with it: "We think you've got cancer." I'd gone to the appointment on my own as I'd assumed it would be a formality and I'd be told there was nothing to worry about.
It was a huge shock and definitely not what I'd planned for this stage of my life. On my way home, I went for a drive to help me process things. When I got home Claire said "Where've you been? You've been gone for hours!"
I decided to be open about what was happening to me and posted on Facebook about my biopsy. I'd been reading lots of entrepreneurial books which recommend taking action without worrying about the outcome. I was bombarded with positive thoughts and messages.
My lowest point was the night before I got my final results. I was scared and went out for a walk to clear my thoughts. I even rang the Samaritans as I just wanted to speak to someone who didn't know me. On 5th August the diagnosis was confirmed - I definitely had cancer and I was booked in for surgery at the end of the month.
While I was waiting for my operation I decided to improve my health in other ways so I started eating healthier food, cut down on alcohol and exercised.
I was so well looked after in hospital. The surgery went smoothly and I didn't have any problems. The doctors removed my nipple as well as some breast tissue and three lymph nodes. The scar is only about 3" long as they managed to get into my armpit through my chest. Thankfully, tests on the lymph nodes showed the cancer hadn't spread. As the cancer had been caught early I didn't need any chemotherapy or radiotherapy but I will need to take tamoxifen for the next five years and have regular checkups.
Christmas is a difficult time for me, as my dad was taken by cancer nine years ago so although I'm looking forward to seeing my daughter's nativity and spending time with my family, it's always a difficult time of year. But I'm still here, which I'm really grateful for and in January we're going away to Center Parcs for a few days to escape!
I'm not a particularly 'blokey' bloke so I am happy to talk about what has happened and I hope by talking about my experience I will raise awareness and help people along the way.
Phil is supporting Cancer Research UK's Right Now campaign to beat cancer sooner. Cancer is happening right now, and you can do something to help. Visit cruk.orgSuggest a correction