About seven years ago, I found a tiny lump in my left breast. I was young and terrified that I had breast cancer. I went to the breast clinic in my local hospital and sat with about 25 other women, all much older than me. I’d never really realised how unlikely it was that breast cancer would affect a 20 year old woman. I saw the oncologist, was reassured that what i had was just a tiny cyst – an entirely benign lump that had manifested itself in my boob and could be wapped out with a simple surgery. A few years later, I had the lump removed.
Fast forward to about nine weeks ago, when I found a small lump in my right breast when I was in the shower. This time I wasn’t terrified – I felt confident it was jut another cyst but merrily popped along to the doctors to embarrass a young male doctor into having a prod around. He said he suspected it was another cyst but referred me through to the breast clinic.
At the breast clinic, I was advised that the lump looked pretty benign, but I was sent to get it aspirated and have a couple of scans. I left the hospital bruised, sore, but still fairly confident that I was just prone to cysty bosoms. A week after having my boob prodded and poked, I got a callback to the hospital. A stupendous weekend at Glasto and a lovely trip to Menorca got in the way somewhat but on 7th July I found myself in Lewisham Hospital.
At around noon, I was told that I had breast cancer. I am 26 years old.
The days since the diagnosis have been a bit of a whirlwind of telling my closest friends and family, dealing with appointments, staying upbeat and trying to convince myself this is not a dream. Every morning since the diagnosis, I’ve woken up and wondered if it isn’t. So far, I’ve actually called cancer “a bit of an inconvenience” and described having cancer as “a bit of a shame”.
But it isn’t all bleak news. My prognosis looks excellent. They’re going to be aggressive and are aiming for a cure rather than remission. I’ve had so many tests in the last week I don’t know whether it’s New Year or New York but it’s all moving forward and I should be starting chemo in the next fortnight. I have made a list of bright sides, and it’s only getting longer.
– loads of time to read
– loads of time to watch Netflix and generic other awful TV
– loads of time to write
– Finding sensational wigs (I am going to be clean bald – guaranteed)
– Rocking the most offensively patterned headscarves I can find
– Donating my hair to the Little Princesses Trust
– Hopefully still being able to work
– Seeing loads of my family (and explaining to my nephew why I decided to copy Grandad’s hair cut)
– Learning how to draw on awesome eyebrows and getting really good at false eyelashes
– Still being able to exercise a bit
– Something to write about on my blog…
Yep. Sorry guys, you’re going to be able to read about e’rethang right here. If me getting breast cancer encourages one young woman to get something they’re worried about checked out or offers support to anyone going through the same in the future, I want to do it through this blog.
I’m determined to stay as positive as I can and laugh as much as possible throughout this whole process. There are days when things are going to be epically shit but I’ve already found that it’s kind of funny in a lot of ways. We have had some outstanding ideas for Halloween costumes for baldy’s (paint yourself green and go as a pea, wear a high collar and show off your inner Uncle Fester, my don a beard and glasses and go as my Dad etc) more suggestions are actively encouraged in the comments below. I’m also going to need a banging booklist so hit me up with your top tips below.
I’m 26, I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m virile. I can fight this. I love a challenge. It looks like this year, my challenge is going to be to beat cancer.
While this is going to be a massive part of my life for the next year, I don’t want “the nonsense” as it’s going to be called from now on, to dominate my blog, so I’ll keep sharing as much other content as I can alongside all my treatment, experiences and any funny tales I find along the way.
But I will say this, now and again later. If you’re a woman, whatever your age, I want you to go away and get reacquainted with your boobs today. Don’t put it off. It is exceptionally rare that I’ve found a lump that’s turned out to be full of badness at such a young age, but I only noticed it because I sporadically check my boobs. It’s not worth thinking about what could have happened if I hadn’t. So have a feel around in the shower, give yourself a little prod while you’re watching Eastenders, get your boyfriend to explore and go to the doctors with any changes. Get to know your boobs. Know how they feel throughout your cycle so that you can spot if there’s anything unusual. It’s so unlikely any lumps you find will be malignant but it could save your life if you do. Check out Coppafeel! And learn all the things to look for when you’re checking your breasts. Then go do it. Like, now. Now.
Gents – your responsibility is two-fold. 1) Check the boobies of the woman you love 2) check yourself – check your pecks (breast cancer can affect men too), check your wangle. Check everything. And keep doing it.
Lastly, like I’ve won an Oscar or something, I want to thank my fantastic family and friends for all their support over the last week or so. I’ve never felt so loved or so supported by such an incredible group of people. If anyone can do this, we can. I love you all very, very, very much.
(picture taken at Glastonbury. What other picture would one use to announce that you’ve got cancer?!)