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Guest blog #1 - Alison Keenan shares her experience of breast cancer

Breast Cancer Care
Friday, 11 February, 2011 - 17:42

Today we welcome QVC presenter, Alison Keenan, to the newsblog to share about her experience of breast cancer.

As a presenter for the home shopping channel, Alison has been a keen supporter of Breast Cancer Care, taking part in many fundraising events for us.

QVC has supported Breast Cancer Care for the last 11 years and over that period its employees, friends and supporters have raised more than £3 million for our organisation - a remarkable achievement.

Alison has been blogging for QVC since 2008 (you can read past posts from her on their website). Unfortunately, in January this year she was diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer. Her mother was also diagnosed with the same cancer last year.

Over the next few months, we'll be featuring blog posts from Alison about her experiences of breast cancer - we hope you enjoy reading them. If you'd like to leave a message for Alison, please use the comment box below and she will get respond as soon as she can.

Alison KeenanHello there,

I can't quite believe we're in February already as so much has happened over the last month, and I'm not quite sure where to begin, but as Julie Andrews once sang, the very beginning is probably best....

On the 4 January this year I went for my six month check up at the breast clinic, an appointment I'd set up following a mammogram I'd had in the summer last year. It was really a safety check as my poor mum had been diagnosed with Invasive Lobular cancer around that time, and had to have a mastectomy at the beginning of September....if you read my QVC blog you may remember me writing to say she was poorly. I'm delighted to say that she has made an amazing recovery and has been incredibly brave and positive throughout, but then she has been with every challenge she's faced in her life. :)

This particular form of cancer is undetectable through a mammogram or ultrasound, and as my lumpy bit hadn't gone away my consultant decided to do a fine needle biopsy and it was there they found a trace of cancerous cells.... I had a lumpectomy the following week, where two cancerous tumours were removed, but following an MRI scan and a sentinel node biopsy - which proved positive - I too was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Cancer. It was unanimously decided that I should have a full mastectomy and clearance of the lymph nodes, followed by chemo and radiotherapy. I'll wait for the reconstruction until that's all finished.

I had the operation last Wednesday - my son Jack's 18th birthday unfortunately - but we did all manage to go out and celebrate the night before. Inspite of us all feeling a little shaky it was wonderful to be together and for me to see my boy step over the line into adulthood...hard to believe as he's always been my baby, but wonderful all the same. :)

I came home from hospital on Monday, and am back in my little cottage with the rabbits hopping about in the fields and the spring bulbs pushing their way through in the garden.... Some days are better than others, but in all honesty, my overwhelming feeling is one of relief, that I am ok, and I am getting better.

I have had such lovely comments from so many people who have been through similar, and there may well be many others who are currently awaiting treatment or may have lost someone you love though breast cancer. The one I had is not meant to be hereditary, although it is particularly difficult to detect, so the changes I knew could see and feel were vital. My work with Breast Cancer Care through QVC has made me more aware and self examination was the saving of me. I have to be honest though and say that my inviation via the NHS around my 50th birthday to go and have a screening is the reason that I went, as I felt there was a change. Far better to get checked out than leave something to chance........please.... :)

Obviously my lovely colleagues here at work had to know and have been amazing. Without their constant love and support, and that of my family and friends, I couldn't have got through this anywhere near as well....My breast cancer nurse, and reconstruction nurse too have been nothing short of incredible, and the consultants both did a great job.

I know I have a long road ahead of me, but so much to look forward to - particularly Lucy's wedding in October - and that is so worth getting better for. My son, Sam has more surgery next week, to help him walk more comfortably, and for the first time I won't be able to be with him, but he does have his girlfriend Ruth, and she is a saint, so I know he'll be fine.

I know I will be back at QVC soon, and meanwhile I am just taking life day by day. I am lucky to have so many good friends and family around me, and I am being very well looked after.

My love to you,
Alison Keenan
QVC Presenter

If you'd like to find out more about Alison and read some of her previous blogs for QVC, visit their website.

And finally, remember that if you have any breast health concerns, you can call our freephone Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

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