The diagnosis
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on 9 March 2020. On the 23 March, Boris Johnson put the UK into lock down.

Changes to my treatment plan 
After my diagnosis, my treatment plan consisted of approximately 6 months of chemotherapy, followed by surgery - probably a single mastectomy with an auxiliary node clearance - followed by three weeks of radiotherapy.

Nine days later, before I had started any treatment, my consultant called me back into the hospital to discuss my case. In that meeting I was told that, due to COVID-19, cancer treatment was changing. It was recommended that instead of chemotherapy, we should move straight to the surgical part of my treatment.

Three days after the lockdown I had my mastectomy and auxiliary node clearance. Right up until the day of surgery I was unsure if it would go ahead as medical directives were changing hourly. It was a time filled with anxiety.

Surgery during lockdown
I was dropped off at the hospital door by my husband. No visitors were allowed in. The hospital was eerily quiet compared to the bustling place that I had come to know during my diagnosis and subsequent appointments.

After a surgery such as mine, patients would normally stay in the hospital for a night or two to be observed. I was home that evening with my drains attached as it was deemed less risky. That night was the first ‘Clap for Carers’. I clapped from my bedroom window, joining in with the street below. It was emotional. I felt so thankful to my medical team at the hospital for carrying out my surgery, and for the care and consideration I was shown during my diagnosis, surgery and post surgical recovery on the ward.

The challenge of self-isolation
The anxiety and stress caused by the uncertainty of what's happening is difficult to bear and as a vulnerable person, I am finding the isolation a challenge. I'm desperately missing my friends and family. I wish I could sit down at their kitchen tables and natter over coffee. I wish I could go for long walks with them. It's so hard dealing with my breast cancer without them.

I feel like the layers of support that someone with breast cancer would normally receive have been stripped away from me at a time when I need them so much.

How I found comfort in Breast Cancer Haven
That's why Breast Cancer Haven is so important. Through all of this, they've been there for me, despite the lockdown. They've been an incredible support, even calling me after my surgery just to check on how I was doing. I've had online meditation and mindfulness sessions, as well as a virtual 'Young Person's Support Group'. It was fantastic to speak to women going through similar journeys - sharing stories and asking questions.

Breast Cancer Haven is a vital support for those with breast cancer and we need them now, more than ever.

 

If you're struggling with breast cancer, please do get in touch - we're here to help