'Before I Kick The Bucket' Star Pens Poignant Letter To The Incurable Cancer Waging A 'War' On Her Body

A woman with terminal cancer has written a powerful open letter to the disease which is spreading through her body.

Rowena Kincaid, 40, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. After undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, she was given the all-clear.

But in 2013, disaster struck when Kincaid began to suffer "unbearable" pain across her breastbone, collar bone, shoulder blades and down her arm.

After undergoing tests, she was given the heartbreaking diagnosis - her cancer was back, and it was terminal. Doctors told her she might not live past her 40th birthday.

Kincaid has now written an emotional yet powerful letter to the cancer and has told of how she will never give up fighting it.

The letter, which was first published on the BBC, coincides with the second instalment of 'Before I Kick The Bucket' - a documentary in which Kincaid figures out what is best to do with life following a terminal diagnosis.

Her letter reads:

Do you know who you're dealing with? I honestly don't think you do.

I have some idea of what you are about, and I fully understand your mission. I don't understand why you came into my life, but I don't dwell upon it.

I won't give you the satisfaction of using up my mental energy trying to figure that out. I did underestimate you, maybe that's because I've never really feared you.

You have changed my life completely, and for this you are unforgiven.

I remember the day we met, you introduced yourself to me as the lump in my breast.

In all fairness you made yourself known, you were so painful that I couldn't ignore you, I just didn't think for one second it was you.

I bet you were really pleased with yourself when all the doctors misdiagnosed me, over and over again.

"Pain is a good sign, it's the lumps that don't hurt you need to look out for."

At 33 years old, I was apparently too young for anything as sinister as yourself, and what I had was "fibrous tissue".

They said they couldn't feel you, "no lump found" was typed into my medical notes. I bet you had a great time knowing this, sniggering, having more time to grow and thinking you were never going to be detected.

But this young woman knew something wasn't right, I know my body, and I never give up.

When I eventually managed to be checked by a specialist, four months later, I remember, and this is absolutely flabbergasting; you even managed to disguise yourself as something "benign" on the ultrasound!

Now, that really was clever! You should be a magician not cancer. No, really, you should! You were fooling everyone, or so you thought, until your cover was blown by a biopsy.

I know you don't care, but I want you to know that as soon as I was told you were in my body, my life, the one I had, disappeared.

The person I've now become is a radically changed version of my former self. I cried, saying goodbye to the old me, and tried to look ahead to what I may become.

I didn't know how I would be. I didn't know what was to come.

You did, however, push me to become more defiant and, actually, a lot more positive than I was before I met you.

I was indeed very positive, it was like a light switch had gone on in my head. I decided you were not going to take me, and so have stayed that way ever since.

I was glad you were cut out of my chest, but I didn't want the chemo. It was such aggressive treatment and, at the time, I didn't realise how aggressive you were too.

I had an idea, but I didn't know you well enough at the time. I still had it though, it was the only thing to stop you spreading.

Story continues below...

Breast Cancer Signs And Treatment

I was swept away with a diary full of hospital appointments. No time to really stop and think, everything happened so fast, and yet it was also a slow, painful process.

Each treatment was a hurdle. I just always remained focused in this imaginary Olympian race, to jump each and every last one. Never thinking too much, just going with what needed to be done, to get rid of your sorry ass.

In this time you took away my blueprint, everything I thought I looked like, or how I felt.

During and after surgery and treatment, I didn't recognise myself anymore. I lost confidence in how I looked, two stone heavier, bald, scarred physically and mentally.

I found myself apologising to everyone for the way I looked, even to strangers who hadn't seen what I looked like before.

I needed love and comfort, so the worst part was I couldn't even get close to a man, or go dating, for fear that he would see my scars.

Plus, I didn't feel desirable, what with having no hair. To me, I looked like an alien. My clothes didn't fit any more, and this person who had taken over wasn't me.

I wanted my old self back. My mirror always showed someone else looking back at me. I didn't know her.

You really did put my life on hold, it became a big void. A big black hole of lost. You also interrupted my work. It took years after your visit for me to restore my career.

So you really did throw me a curveball; one that when I felt better again, I thought I'd dodged.

You were just a blip to me, and as soon as treatment ended, I started to get my life back on track.

I believed strongly I would never meet you again and, if I was to, I hoped it was in the distant future when I'd perhaps had my own family and done all the things I'd wanted to do.

The future me, I thought, may be more ready for you. The thought was always there, but I moved on and rebuilt myself and everything else you took away. I was cancer free.

I now know you knew what you were doing. You are so calculated and sly, has anyone ever told you that?

For three years you slept, you really were very, very quiet. I'm almost sure you were waiting for the time in my life when everything was going well for a change.

Job opportunities were coming my way (after working that extra mile to catch up with life again), my body was as fit as a fiddle, my hair had grown back and I felt like me, albeit a new me. I was happy!

You really did choose your timing, I do wonder if it was deliberate. Was it?

Again, vigilant, I thought something wasn't quite right with my breast bone in December 2012.

You hid yourself, so well in fact that the specialists thought nothing of it. I guess there isn't much information about how you act, when you're on a mission to return, it's still a bit of a mystery.

I wonder how long you were there, busy spreading yourself around my body, while I was happily getting on with my life?

Do feel free to answer that, when you stop busying yourself with more invasions.

By April 2013 I knew something wasn't right when the pain spread up my breastbone, collar bone, between my shoulder blades and down my arm to the elbow, became unbearable.

I couldn't dress myself, touch my head, laugh without hurting, hold a cup in my hand, or sleep in any position without agony.

You on the other hand were having a field day, a merry old time, and again I was told this was not you, and not to worry.

So I lived on painkillers and took up physiotherapy, and presumed you were RSI.

Looking back, I should thank you for trying to tell me you were back, because you did try quite hard to really, but between myself not having a clue about what to look for (I thought you'd make a lump again), and the specialists not investigating your now obvious signs, I didn't heed your warnings until you shouted "I'm back!" extremely loud, and frighteningly clear.

And so we met again, only this time you were uncontrollable, formidable, completely in charge and life threatening.

You sneaked up on me like the bitch that you are, ripping your way throughout my whole chest, and creating a tumour the size of a baked potato.

Thanks to you, I am now covered with masses of internal scars, from the growth and shrinkage of your many tumours since; evidence of the wars I've waged against you with chemo and radiotherapy.

This civil war of ours has been raging solidly for two years now; if you count the years I didn't know I was actually fighting you, seven. I didn't stop chemo for a whole year, not one month was I chemo free, because I knew you would try to spread further.

If I had so much as a little rest, you were in there, faster than a fox with a hen.

You are so adamant that this body will be yours, and you've worked out how to resist one chemo at a time. You've almost worked out my current one, I'm just waiting for you to confirm you have.

You'll be pleased to know I've run out of weapons after this one, and I only tell you this as I hope you show me some mercy for a short time. I applaud your ingenuity, but I also hate you.

Sometimes I feel sorry for you though, because you are after all, part of me. A completely bad version of me.

All you are doing is surviving, like I am, that's what you are programmed to do.

You think you're right, but I can tell you, you're not. Can't you see? The body you are surviving for will die if you don't stop. You won't have a body to survive in, if you carry on. You're acting like a parasite!

But I guess you can't see, you are just on your big old mission of self destruction, the only one you know and understand. You've conquered my lymphatic system and now you've managed to set up camp in my lungs.

I know it is only a matter of time until you take a jolly holiday to my liver and brain, because being the type of cancer you are, those are your favourite destinations. I know you intend to settle down in these great places sometime soon too, that's if you haven't started to already.

This time round, I still wasn't ready for you, I don't think I ever will be.

The fear of your return was greater than actually facing you again, because I'm between a rock and a hard place, as they say.

Not much I can do about it. I still refuse to show you fear, not while I have breath in my lungs.

Sometimes you throw me off course with your invisible punches, so I just pick myself up and dust myself off, and keep on walking.

Sometimes you make me cry without warning, in the strangest and most public of places.

I don't care, I'm not ashamed that you do. Maybe I will eventually show you how scared I am, but not right now, not when there are things I can do.

You see, I'm going to miss this planet we're on and I'm going to make the most of it! I'm going to enjoy every single moment of every day, every week and every month. I will continue to fight you.

I'm going to be as "normal" as possible, even though you have again successfully put my life back into suspended animation, much, much worse than before, but I won't let you make me feel like I did the first time we met, you can't hurt me like you did.

I am not that girl anymore. If anything I'm staying glamorous, I'm standing tall.

I'm proud of what my body has been through and what it continues to do while it fights you, it's withstood more than I could ever have imagined.

I'm going to show the world how to deal with you, reveal how you treat people. I'm going to raise awareness about you, so you and all your other type of "friends" don't take lives.

Most of all I am confident in my own strength, but I now don't and will never underestimate yours.

Yes, you started a fight that I know you will eventually win, but I know you very well now.

If you're waiting for me to give up, give up the life you've taken chunks out of, give up after fighting you so hard and so long, you are sorely mistaken! Thanks to you, I now have an even bigger fire in my belly, a huge lust for life, and have the mental strength of an Amazonian.

I finally know my worth. Blame yourself for the strength I set upon you, you made me this way. Even though you affect me physically, you will not define me, and when the time comes and you shoot me down, I know I will have given my all, and done myself proud.

So cancer tell me, do you know who you are dealing with now?

'Before I Kick the Bucket: The Whole Story' will be shown on BBC One Wales at 9pm on Monday 15 February.