I regularly checked my breasts and when I found a small lump I thought it would be nothing. When my doctor told me I had breast cancer I was really shocked. I’m fit, don’t drink and go to the gym regularly. I was in total disbelief and just said to my doctor – “what happens now?”

It was only a couple of weeks from my diagnosis through to surgery but it felt a long time. From the moment I knew the cancer was there I just wanted to get it out. I had a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and am now on Tamoxifen for five years. At times I felt that that I had no life beyond cancer. I couldn’t sleep and felt like a walking corpse.

I have very supportive friends and family and I never had to go to an appointment alone but I still found myself really struggling. I went along to the Haven Introduction day and it was a relief to talk to other women in the same boat. They were all at different stages and it was really inspiring to meet people further down the line.

Coming to The Haven has helped me with some very specific concerns. I was really confused about what to eat. There are so many rumours around what foods are good and bad for you and I just found it overwhelming. I used to go to the shops and come out with an empty basket because I didn’t know what to put in it. Speaking to The Haven nutritionist was really helpful. She gave clear, sensible advice that was easy to follow. The side effects from my treatment weren’t as bad as some people experience but I had bad hot flushes and sleeplessness so they recommended I have some acupuncture which really helped. I developed lymphoedema – a painful swelling in the arm – and lymphatic drainage helped the pain and swelling to go down – I could actually see the difference it made.

At the back of my mind I always think about cancer and sometimes still get a bit tearful, but in the last three years I’ve come so far and I’m feeling really good. I’ve started a new job and just this morning I had a hospital check up and was told I only need to come in every yearwhich is great news. The Haven helped me through this confusing time and was there for me when I needed them most – for that I’m very grateful.