Penny has always been close to her two daughters but when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as her daughter, Anna was recovering from major surgery on her spine, their bond grew ever-stronger as they helped each other through one of the toughest times of both their lives.

Penny was generally in good health when she started to feel some discomfort in her breast. Although there was no lump, she wanted to get it checked out anyway. She went along on her own to the appointment, not anticipating bad news but when her doctor suggested a biopsy she started to feel worried.

A couple of days later she was formally diagnosed with breast cancer. Penny remembers, “I was in a completely frozen state.  I felt numb then started to feel frightened about what was ahead for both myself and my family.”

At the time of her diagnosis her daughter Anna was recovering from major surgery on her spine and Penny had been helping her recuperate. Now it was Anna’s turn to help her mum. She took a sabbatical from work and moved in with Penny.  

“She was my rock” said Penny, “she was there through my chemo, she was there to talk to and kept my spirits up, she researched all the treatments and side effects and how to deal with them. I was just in a bit of a bubble but she kept me going.” It was Anna who found Breast Cancer Haven for Penny too.

Penny recalls: “because of the drugs that I was taking I experienced symptoms such as wrist pain, indigestion, weight-gain and fluid retention. I began acupuncture which really helped with wrist pain and I talked to the nutritionist who gave me some really good advice.  Exercise became an important part of my life too and something that I still do regularly. 

"Breast Cancer Haven is a very welcoming place. I really loved sitting in the library and browsing the books and chatting to other women.  I was lucky, I had an immensely supportive husband and two daughters but my heart goes out to people going through the challenges of breast cancer alone. For them, Breast Cancer Haven must be a complete life-line”.

Thankfully life goes on. During Penny’s treatment Anna, who had recovered from her own surgery got married. It was an emotional day, and one that allowed Penny to give her daughter a very special gift – she did all the flower arrangements for the day.

“I never thought that I would have the courage to be the florist for my daughter’s wedding but we had both learnt how to persevere during the past year. With lots of encouragement from my local florist I could give Anne a unique thank you for her support. And I loved doing it too – it gave me something to focus on throughout my treatment.”

Penny reflects on her experience: “Having breast cancer was really tough. I try to get through it all step-by-step and deal with things one bit at a time and that’s what I’m still doing but there were some positives to take away from it. I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful husband and daughters, have gained a son-in-law and even gained a new skill in floristry".

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