“Telling my family was the hardest part” recalls Janet. “I knew I was upsetting everyone all over again. “My sister, Jean was just coming the end of her chemotherapy and I was about to plunge everyone back into it”.

“After I received my diagnosis I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I knew the news would devastate my family so I drove back to the school that I work at just because wanted to be with people I knew. I told the Head teacher and we had a cry, then I had to go and pick up my daughter from her school. She is 15 and I knew the news would devastate her. She had seen my sister go through it and now I had to do the same. I just wanted to protect her from it all but of course I had to tell her. We drove home from school and she guessed something was wrong. I told her when we arrived home over a hot chocolate and we just sobbed together for about an hour. Then we resolved to get through it together – of course we had wobbles but we tried to be strong for each other”.

Janet knew what to expect from treatment but the chemotherapy was tough and it really took its toll mentally and physically. “Having poison injected into me affected everything - my sleep, eating, drinking and emotionally I became a bit Jekyll and Hyde. Some days I didn’t want to leave the house, others I felt OK and would stride out in the town without my wig almost defiantly. I wanted people to see what this disease was doing to me and show the world that I was strong and fighting it”.

“My whole family provided an amazing support network. I have five aunties who have all had breast cancer and they were all there for me through it all. I knew we were close but I didn’t realise how close a family could actually get”. Janet’s sister, Jean had been to Breast Cancer Haven in Hereford so suggested that she go along too. “It is such a lovely feeling just being there. It’s calm and serene and everyone is friendly and makes you feel so special. I had an aromatherapy massage which was so relaxing and calming and helped with my aches and pains. The counsellor helped me in lots of ways, not just in coping with the fear and anxiety but also with moving on with my life and what the future holds”.

“Everyone copes differently with a life-threatening illness but I came out thinking “I’m here. I’m alive” and I’m determined to raise awareness and encourage people to get checked for breast cancer. I have a family history but didn’t have a lump or other symptoms and if it hadn’t been for me requesting an early mammogram it wouldn’t have been found – I actually feel very lucky, so my advice is to get to know your body and insist on an early mammogram if you have any doubts”. “And if you do find yourself going through it, my advice is to make sure you surround yourself with people who can support you – and that includes Breast Cancer Haven”.