As a mum of two who has had breast cancer three times in the last ten years, you might not expect  Kim to be the most positive of people but her infectious laugh, her easy self-expression and the warmth with which she talks about her family and friends show how far she’s come since her first diagnosis.

“That first time I felt like my life was over and I just internalised everything” she explains. The boys were doing their GCSE and A-levels and I didn’t want my illness to distract them from their studies so we locked down and dealt with it on our own as a family. They did really well and I’m immensely proud of them”, she says wiping a way a tear.

“The second time I just said to myself “I’ve got through it before so I’ll do it again” I had my family to think about which is what got me through really, plus I was halfway through my degree and I didn’t want to give it up. So I think stubborn is the right word for me” she says laughing.

“The third time, ‘what can I say?’ I had no idea. It was detected during a routine mammogram and I was back on the roller-coaster. I was determined not to be beaten so I just took control of it. I started with the small things like shaving off my hair for charity rather than waiting for it to fall out which made me feel better. I also knew the routine and who I could rely on”.

As well as her husband and sons, Kim says that her friends have been there for her all along. She speaks warmly of her girlfriends including friend Ange. “She’s been a tower of strength through it all. She always visited and treated me like the person I am rather than a sick person. She keeps my spirits up when I’m having a bad day. She says: “OK you have vented; now screw it up in a ball and throw it away!” She’s a really good friend and I feel very lucky – not everyone has that support”.

Ange also introduced Kim to Breast Cancer Haven in Wessex. She took her there as a surprise and she is so glad she did.  “They gave me a bit of a lifeline really. I had counselling which helped me to decide what I really wanted out of life and gave me time to focus on myself which calmed my thoughts and helped me to relax”. Kim also found massage appointments really helpful too – easing the pain caused by her scar tissue.

So when I ask Kim where she feels that she is now, she doesn’t hesitate. “Having breast cancer has changed me quite radically actually. I see things very differently now. Before my diagnosis I wasn’t making the most out of my life and what I had. I don’t do that now”.

“It’s made me more confident and spurred me on. I took up jive dancing, dress making and jewellery making as well as getting a degree in business leadership. I was very proud to graduate with my headscarf under my mortarboard.  I love my work and have continued to work throughout. I now have the attitude that - if I want something, I’m the only one who can make it happen. I’ve stopped thinking about things and started doing them. I wouldn’t say that I’m back to my old self because the old Kim doesn’t exist anymore. I’m a better version of her and I credit my family, friends and Breast Cancer Haven for helping me to find the new me”. 

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