October marks the Estee Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign and that's why I'm sharing my story. I'm currently battling cancer and it can be an isolating and lonely time; it's often been filled with fear and endless trips to the hospital. One thing that I've taken reassurance in, however, are open conversations and knowing there are other people like myself going through a similar fight; it's good to know that I'm not alone and hopefully those reading this will also feel the same.
It all started the day after my husband's 40th birthday. His 40th marked an exciting time in our relationship, where we had hoped to create a bucket list of dream adventures that we would embark on together.
The next day however, I found a lump in my breast while showering. It worried me immediately and I booked to see my GP as soon as I could. Due to being a lot younger (37) than most women with breast cancer, it took a while for me to be diagnosed. I was told there was nothing to worry about, so when I was called back for a second mammogram and biopsy, I didn't take my husband with me. The biopsy was very painful so in this moment, I wished I had him by my side. When the results came back, I was told I had cancer - I was completely shocked and devastated.
All I could think about was my three children and how I'd tell them. For every woman - and man - who receives this diagnosis, that's the most difficult part: breaking the news to your loved ones.
Everything changed straight away and I've been undergoing chemotherapy since the 21st June and my last treatment was last week - I can't believe I've finally done it. Chemotherapy is so gruelling and words can't explain how painful it is. I could hardly move after a session and even walking down the stairs would feel like an accomplishment, and then you get a bit better and have to do it all over again. Sometimes my mum had to push me into the car and force me to go to the next chemotherapy sessions as I couldn't face it. It
My friends too have been extremely supportive and even threw me a 'chemo party' at Bill's - this was their way of rallying around me and showing me they care and would be there for me throughout the treatment.
A lot has changed in the last 25 years and I definitely don't think anyone would have dreamed of throwing a 'chemo party' back then - it's a true sign of the times. Sadly, people didn't understand or share their experiences with others 25 years ago. And I've recently been speaking to a woman called Melanie who went through a very similar experience of breast cancer in 1997; she was also in her 30s and had young children. She told me that other mothers in the playground had never met anyone with breast cancer before.
Knowing that treatments are so good nowadays and that I have a strong chance of getting better help me through the dark days.
When Evelyn H. Lauder founded The Estée Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign in 1992, she wanted to change this and help women to talk about breast cancer, to spread the word and raise vital funds for scientific research. Since then, people have become a lot more willing to talk about breast cancer and I'm very glad this is the case. There are so many charity events and fundraisers that people take part in now. It makes me feel like I'm not alone.
I've also been lucky to have the internet and social media. 25 years ago, the internet was in its very early infancy and social media was non-existent. People like Melanie had to endure call after call from well-meaning family and friends, all the while having to retell the same painful stories while she endured gruelling treatments. At least I could share a message on a group WhatsApp with my closest friends or post on Facebook so people can check in on how I am. I know a lot of my colleagues, for example, really want to ask how I am but don't want to bother me so social media is a great way of keeping everyone informed.
To support the 25th Anniversary of The Estée Lauder Companies' Breast Cancer Campaign, visit bcacampaign.com, follow on social media @bcacampaign and use #PinkRibbon25.