Beverley Nash was devastated when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. But four years later she’s looking forward to taking to the catwalk at The Show London.
I was convinced I was going to die
In June 2015, I noticed a puckering on my left breast. I remember thinking, ‘That doesn’t look right’, but we were heading away for a few days so I put it to the back of my mind and decided to deal with it when we got home.
I remember the consultant talking, all these words coming at me, but at no point did he say ‘breast cancer’. He just kept referring to ‘a tumour’ and saying not to worry. They were going to deal with it.
I sat there, completely numb, not being able to take it in.
When it did sink in, I fell apart. I was convinced that was it. I just saw the whole of my future crumbling away and it was devastating.
The worst part was the wait before treatment began
The weeks after diagnosis were the darkest of times.
I felt like I was on an out-of-control speedboat and all I could do was hang on.
Gradually, given a little time, I accepted that these dark days were inevitable. I decided to go with my feelings as they came and went, rather than trying to put on a brave face or lock things inside.
Slowly my feelings did start to level out. It felt as if a stronger, braver person came along and inhabited my body, but I now realise it was just me finding strength I never knew I had.
On the day of my surgery I was calm and positive
I think that was because it was the first major step towards getting rid of the cancer.
My lumpectomy took place on 19 August, the day after my 51st birthday.
I was advised to have chemotherapy, and started six rounds of FEC at the end of September.
I was terrified. My legs almost froze as I approached the doors of the chemo unit.
I was fearful of how the treatment was going to make me feel. But apart from increasing fatigue I fared much better than I could have imagined.
Losing my anonymity was a challenge
Another challenge was dealing with the physical changes that would make my cancer obvious to everyone.
I was going to lose my hair and look like a cancer patient. Up until that point, the world at large wouldn’t have known what I was going through.
Going out into the world in my hats and then with no eyebrows or lashes was a huge challenge but, once done, it was much easier than I thought it would be.
When treatment ended, I felt no elation
I didn’t really know how I should be feeling, but there was definitely a sense of feeling lost and not ready for the next phase.
It felt like I’d been kicked out of the nest and didn’t yet know how to fly.
I was so glad to have the recommendation of a Moving Forward course. I almost didn’t go but my husband encouraged me to.
Not only was it a source of great information and support, but it was also such a relief to meet other women who were all in the same situation – all pointing to their chemo curls and saying, ‘Do you know how to handle this?!’
There is such comfort, reassurance and inspiration to be found with others who have walked the same path.
My loved ones and I didn’t talk about how they were feeling
We were all just getting through it, trying to keep things as normal as possible.
I know my husband occasionally spoke with a trusted friend and with my dad and sister, who I’m very close with, but they kept their fears from me.
In fact, we haven’t spoken about it until now. Talking with them has certainly helped my understanding of how my diagnosis affected them.
It didn’t occur to any of them, or to me, that they could pick up the phone to the Breast Cancer Care Helpline.
I think knowing this support is available would be of huge help to the people whose support is so vital to someone going through breast cancer.
My diagnosis stands behind me now
It’s part of my history and, for the most part, it stays there.
There are times when it does overtake and overwhelm me, but I look at this as a normal consequence of what I have been through. And the periods of not worrying are becoming longer as time goes by.
Being selected as a model for The Show is such an honour.
I am so excited to be taking part. Breast Cancer Care did such important work in supporting me. It’s wonderful to be able to give something back.
I saw The Show from the audience last year so I know what an absolutely amazing day it is.
I’ve come such a long way since the time I sat in the bath and cut all my hair off the day it started falling out.
It feels like the blink of an eye, but I realise how far I’ve come.
I hope that when they see me on the catwalk, my family and friends will realise how much they were a part of that.
Join Beverley at The Show London as 31 inspirational models step out in style on the catwalk after a breast cancer diagnosis. Book your ticket today.