Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, after I can only describe as weeks of agony in my back. Pain worse than childbirth, pain worse than from previous breast cancer ops put together.
Prior to my back pain I was happy, healthy and just finished my breast reconstruction phase 2. I was approaching 3 years post diagnosis. I was winning, although it never really left my mind, the cancer. I was high risk of it returning. Being young, and a fast growing cancer fuelled by hormones and a protein HER2-.
In 8 weeks I went from commuting daily to work holding down a good job that I loved and being a mum and enjoying normal family life, to being unable to get out of bed or get to the toilet. I was 36 years old, unable to move thorough the pain sometimes not making it to the toilet in time lying in my own urine. I apologise for the graphic description but it’s important for the reader to know how quickly things can change and how degrading it’s been.
Oh god, I wished it could have been anything else. A slipped disc, an unexplained injury, but in my heart I knew the bloody cancer had spread. I just knew. I was like many, diagnosed in A&E. It was worse news than I was expecting though. The cancer was in my spine and had fractured a vertebrae causing pain. My muscles were constantly in spasm trying to support my poor back. I couldn’t stand to let anyone touch me and would scream at them. They also found cancer in my liver and my lung. I only had a clear scan at the end of last year, it seems impossible to understand how the cancer party has erupted so quickly and invited so many friends.
I feel well. That’s the thing. My back is in a bad way but the surgery I had last week was pretty major and I have metal rods and cement in my spine to help stabilise it and then chemo and rads to shrink the tumour/s. They told me there was no spinal chord damage but if I’d have kept forcing myself to move for much longer I would have been paralysed.
Lots of women have mets but have no pain. They said in a way I was lucky. They’ve found it and they’re going to treat me. There is lots of treatment available for me because of my type of cancer. I’m not going to die tomorrow. But I will die of cancer when everything stops working.
I did cry for a few days. You know the drill. Why me? Why not someone else? I probably won’t see my grandchildren or kids get married. Some days are better than others, but through all the pain frustration and sadness I do find strength and positivity.
I’ve changed my diet as close to vegan as I can which is great because I love fruit and vegetables and soya products. I juice everyday carrots apples ginger. I’ve cut out diary and most sugar. I don’t need or miss it. I drink wheatgrass shots. I have the time now to take care of my body inside and out. I do want to do more yoga when my back feels stronger.
I appreciate the time with my family even though we do drive each other crazy. All the “I love yous” mean so much and I take it all in and there’s lots more hugging these days.
I’m going to lose my hair again. Warped perhaps, but I find it amusing. It’s not great but in the grand scheme of things it’s really not a big deal. Being glamorous was so important to me the first time around but secondary breast cancer has taught me that my looks don’t count for anything really. We are all judged for how we look on the outside, but it’s what’s inside your soul that counts, how beautiful your personality is. Doing something kind for someone else is so much more important than how you look in selfies on Instagram.
However long I battle on, I will always find strength in doing what I love and being around those that I love and who support me and get me through the bad days of which I’m sure there will be many.
Let’s face it cancer is a bitch. It destroys families, breaks hearts and scares people. But today I’m not scared. Just at peace and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else right now with anyone else doing the thing I love best…