When on 21 September 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I heard my own voice crying to the world, ‘why me!!’ and within seconds, my world, my life was changed. I felt lost, small, vulnerable, alone, scared and wanted to run far away from this horrible nightmare. Surely this doctor in a white coat couldn’t be right. She gave the wrong diagnostic, it certainly was a mistake.
It couldn’t happen to me. After all, I breastfed my two children, had a healthy lifestyle most of my life and as there weren’t any breast cancer cases in my family’s medical history, this couldn’t be right….But sadly it was, and after shedding buckets of tears, tears of scare of the unknown, tears of the scare of the word cancer, I had to finally accept this sudden and serious health challenge at the age of 52. An age where I had visualised my husband and I finally able to enjoy travelling since our children were young adults.
Funnily enough, what worried me the most before anything else was the fact that I wasn’t in my own country, France. At that stage, I would have felt more confident to talk about my cancer with my own family doctor, in French, in France. Not because I didn’t trust the medical team here in the UK but because cancer isn’t a health condition that I could say I knew about. Just the word cancer can plunge you in a world of distress. Then the cancer medical terminologies are very specific and and technical which made me very uncomfortable and powerless. But I had no time to be fussy and I had to accept that whether in France or in the UK, I just found out that I had breast cancer.
Exactly two weeks after finding out about my breast cancer, I had a lumpectomy to remove the 10mm lump from my right breast. But a month later they had to re-operate to remove a bit more tissue where the lump was. After the two surgeries were done, I felt relieved and delighted that the surgeries went well and that my scar was pretty smooth and hardly visible. I thought I was going to resume my life as before and go back to work but sadly the news weren’t what I hoped for. I was so naive…After analysing the lump, the surgeon explained that my type of cancer was grade III, aggressive. The words scared me, numbed me, infuriated me. Why? I had to surgeries in a month to heart this? How such a peaceful person as me could have an aggressive something growing in her breast? No, no, no this wasn’t happening, this was all wrong and impossible!! I was crying and shouting telling the surgeon and the nurse that they should leave me and my body alone, all this in French, yes, and I was about to leave the doctor’s consultation room, coat and handbag on my arm when I suddenly stopped in my tracks and started to cry and cry to finally become silent, numb, lost in a world that wasn’t mine….
I understood and accepted that despite the successful lumpectomy, I now had to undergo chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy and then by hormone therapy for a minimum of 5 years. Voila…and in January 2017 I had my first of the 12 weekly chemotherapy treatments. 14 weeks were I braced myself, seeing my body, my face, my hair, my nails, my everything changing, aching, getting weak, dull, feeling like drowning deeper week after week…but my soul had to remain strong, to fight this battle against this illness.
My family were my saving grace as well as my friends. Thanks to their love and care, I managed to fight sadness most of the time, but their sincere compassion also meant that I could cry on their shoulders whenever I needed to empty my soul. Another great help during chemotherapy was walking in the parks, listening to the nature, the birds tweeting, the wind blowing through the trees branches, the sound of live. And week after week, I became more and more tired but closer to the last of the 12 treatments and when I reached the last one, I proclaimed myself A FIGHTER! And you know what? This breast cancer’s changed my life for ever. It made me stronger, wiser, kinder to myself, more appreciative of the little things in life. Cancer’s given me the opportunity to choose happiness to live my life!
8th week of my chemotherapy treatments, I had 4 more to complete the full course:
The day of my last chemotherapy:
6 weeks post-chemotherapy: tiny duckling hair have started growing-back
12 weeks post-chemotherapy: My hair, eyebrows, eyelashes are getting stronger and fuller:
December 2017, at that time, I had to have one more Herceptin injection to complete my full breast-cancer treatments which lasted 15 months all together.