Look. Let's face it. I know we haven't always seen eye to eye. We've had our ups and downs, we've had a pretty turbulent relationship. Like most young women my age, I've spent a lot of time considering that you should be a particular way. A particular shape. A particular size. A particular specification to make me the same as everyone else. That was always my main concern when it came to you.
I'll admit it. There's a lot I've done to you in the past which would give you reason to be cross with me. My love of chocolate probably ticks you off a bit. My penchant for eating a lot of carbs on a regular basis probably makes you crave something a bit greener. My limited exercise for the first 20, 23 years of my life probably, rightfully, left you feeling like I had let you down. My tendency to not look after myself as well as I should when I'm stressed or dejected or exhausted or depressed has probably left you feeling all the same emotions.
I thought we were doing okay. You and me. I'd started doing more with you, thinking a bit more carefully about what I put into you (but admittedly still eating many cakes and carbs - a leopard can't entirely change its spots). I started to be really bloody grateful to you actually as I felt myself getting stronger. I began to congratulate my legs for getting me up Sydenham Hill on my 7km run home from work. You let me know about it, but you did it. I started to be proud of the muscles I developed in the pool. I started to look in the mirror and think "yeah. You and me. We've got this".
But then you betrayed me. You really bloody let me down when you started growing those poisonous, cancerous cells in my right breast. They weren't just meek cells either. Though they were but small, they were mighty. At just 22mm they were already Grade 3. Triple negative. Growing quickly. The type of breast cancer most likely to reoccur. Yeah. Thanks for that. I thought we were friends.
My bitterness towards you comes and goes. I know it's going to take me time to trust you again. But equally I've watched with amazement at how you've taken on this new challenge with aplomb. You've been prodded and poked and stabbed and jabbed. You've healed and strengthened and moved on and adapted. Even when you've struggled to heal problematic wounds, you've given it your best shot. I've felt you regenerate and recover from a trauma I never imagined I would know before my 27th birthday.
So as we begin another year together, let me say this to you. Yes, you let me down (quite dramatically, let's be frank) but it's you that's going to carry me through this. I'm grateful for all the strength we gathered before I got my diagnosis. The runs where I wanted to cry. The yoga where I amazed myself at the shapes I could twist into. The swims where I pushed you to do a mile in under 30 minutes. It's made us more ready to take this on together. And while I acknowledge your betrayal, I know this is going to be, has already been, as hard for you as it is for me.
So I thank you for everything you've done so far. And everything we have yet to endure. I think, after all of this, I'll appreciate you more than ever. Eventually.
With love (and a bit of a ticking off)
Alice-May Purkiss was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2015. Her blog, www.alicemaypurkiss.co.uk, is following her treatment, and trying to find the funny side of getting a breast cancer diagnosis at 26 years old. She's working on getting women to check their boobs more frequently through her #CheckYourChebs campaign across social media