PUBLISHED ON: 9 March 2017

A photo of Emma and Molly

After being diagnosed with secondary (metastatic) breast cancer, which is incurable, Emma is focused on living life to the fullest and creating memories with her daughter.

When I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2011 it felt like a bomb had gone off in my life; nothing would be the same again.

My marriage broke down and I had to take medical retirement, which has been like losing part of my identity. But I’m standing on my own two feet after it all. Something I didn’t think I could do with this diagnosis.

My illness will naturally have much more of an impact on my daughter, Molly, because I’m a single parent.

If we were family, it would still be devastating, but that normality would continue. So that’s been one of the biggest challenges. But Molly (who is now 12) and I have a great relationship.

When I first had my diagnosis of secondary breast cancer, she was very young so we didn’t really go into it. We said I was going to have medicine that would make my hair fall out. That I was going to wear a wig. She asked if she could wear a wig too.

In August 2016 I had a scan that showed my cancer had progressed after having been stable for a long period of time and now I’m on oral chemotherapy. This is the first time in her living memory that I’ve been on active treatment. She’s had some difficult times coming to terms with what that might mean.

She started a new school in September, so a lot of her friends don’t know about my diagnosis. She decided to post on Instagram about it and said that I was her hero. It was just such a beautiful thing for her to have written. 

I’m so incredibly proud of her and the way she manages everything. She’s done well, but obviously it’s very difficult for her

I want to show my daughter the world  

Emma and Molly

I’ve always loved travelling and decided I would try and see as much of the world with Molly as I could. I have to squeeze a lifetime of memories into a much shorter time frame, and I thought ‘What better memories could I give her?'

So right now I’m focusing on using my time to do as much exploring as possible with Molly. 

Being adventurous and doing things that you don’t expect to be able to do when you’ve got secondary breast cancer is incredibly fulfilling. I think travelling has been the greatest thing that we’ve done. 

I put a book together of all our travels with photos and funny stories of things that happened, and I gave it to her for Christmas. I want my daughter to remember me for being adventurous.

We’ve been to Asia quite a lot – to places like Singapore, Cambodia, and most recently Myanmar.

Most of the time I am not looking at the temples, beaches, orangutans but watching her see these things and the look in her face will always stay with me.

You always have things to be thankful for

I appreciate how fortunate I am that I’m able to travel. I know a lot of women in my position aren’t well enough to. I’ve tried to really make the most of that.

I think that travelling and seeing how people live in other countries does give children a really useful perspective on their own lives. And the things they have that other people don’t have.

You always have things that you are thankful for, things you feel lucky for. That’s what I try and pull out of all those experiences for her.

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