“I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago this October.

I work as a Care Coordinator for an Oncology Specialist Team at St James’ Cancer Centre in Leeds, and obviously due to the nature of my job breast cancer was something I was well aware of, the need to check regularly for lumps and things that may look abnormal and also the process involved after diagnosis.

It had been a while since my last check and one Saturday morning I felt a lump and immediately called my GP for an appointment. After my initial appointment, I had to wait for a mammogram for two weeks. I then received an appointment for an ultrasound and finally a sample.

I remember feeling anxious as no one had really reassured me that it was nothing to worry about and I guess I took that as a bad sign. Finally, the bad news came and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctor reassured me that the cancer found was ‘small and treatable’ but it was still such a surreal moment for me and it really took the wind out of my sails and left me feeling vulnerable.

I really struggled with telling my loved ones about my diagnosis. I am very protective of my family and whilst it was my diagnosis and illness, I felt like it was my fault for destroying my loved ones’ worlds, particularly my children’s.

I had surgery and a double mastectomy, which was my own choice. I felt very swept along by treatment and how quickly everything happened whilst still struggling to process my diagnosis.

It felt like the like treatment was easier to cope with than my emotions. With treatment, I was physically doing something about the cancer, but even after treatment, the emotions lingered, will the breast cancer come back, what will happen if it comes back worse.

The counselling I received at Breast Cancer Haven enabled me to process everything that was happening. I learned coping strategies which would allow me to live with my fear that breast cancer may return, but to not let the thoughts take over. I learnt to slow down and to live in a moment rather than always rushing like I was before.

I had just presumed my life would go on, but I hadn’t factored in that this was something that would happen to me and everything would have to be paused. That was the worst part for me. I hated the fact that breast cancer took away my control.

Breast Cancer Haven was somewhere where I knew I didn’t have to retell my tale to everybody. You can walk in, sit down and have a cup of tea and just relax. I met other ladies with breast cancer during a group ear acupuncture session. We all got chatting about some funny remedies they had heard worked for breast cancer treatment side-effects. I found it fantastic to be around other people who had had the same experiences as me.

I was blown away by Breast Cancer Haven and the services provided by the team were so fantastic. It made me feel safe and it really had a massive impact on me during treatment.

Breast Cancer Haven placed me somewhere between vulnerable and invincible, helped me to cope much better and made me feel like superwoman.”

This October how will you use your extra hour to support women like Chris?

Make your hour count.


Click here to join the My Power Hour challenge

Back to story listing page