PUBLISHED ON: 16 May 2019

Lucie was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in 2016. She shares her difficulties in navigating her cancer between her ‘two worlds’.

Lucie at her wedding

I was terrified

I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2009. After my treatment, it took me a long time to start feeling like myself again.

I was living life the best that I could, but my fitness wasn’t where I wanted, and I was scared. I tried to keep busy by doing the school runs and being the best mum that I could be.

On 14 April 2016, I was told I had secondary breast cancer. The breast cancer, which I called 'Norman', had spread to my lung. It had made some friends in my nodes too.

When I found out, I was terrified. I booked myself into the hospice. I started planning my funeral. It was so much to process.

My life feels like the best it’s ever been

It took time for this feeling to pass. A couple of scans showed that my treatment was working, and I found out that I could live with my secondary diagnosis.

Living with Norman has taught me so much. I live my life without fear now. I love trying new things and challenging myself.

I write a blog about living with secondary breast cancer, have climbed a mountain, been on television and have been trained in hair care for people with cancer – my life feels like the best it’s ever been.

Sometimes I feel defined by cancer

It’s hard for people without cancer to understand how living with it feels. I’m open and honest with those close to me, which helps, but not everyone gets it.

People react strongly when they hear the words ‘terminal cancer’. It’s a mix of pity and confusion. They ask, how do I live my life? How can I talk about it without crying all day every day? 

Meeting new people is the hardest. The people who called me inspiring. It feels like I’m the girl with breast cancer, rather than me being me.

When someone tells me I’m inspiring, I always explain that I’m not. I’m just the same as everyone. I’m not inspiring just because I have cancer. I’m not inspiring because I blog about it and want the world to know more about secondary breast cancer.

It feels selfish, really. Writing the blog helps me loads and I’m fighting for a cause that I believe in and live every day.

Lucie climbing

Cancer teaches you not to judge

Over the last couple of years, I’ve chatted and met some amazing people through my diagnosis. Too many of them are no longer here. We all share a bond that I can’t really explain.

We’ve all made different choices in our lives. I have friends who have told the world they have breast cancer. We all do this for our own reasons. Most of us go public in the hope of helping someone else.

But others choose not to tell anyone about their breast cancer. That’s fine too. The main thing that having cancer teaches you is to never judge others. We all accept that ‘cancer world’ is a terrible place to be. Life can often be hard, scary and short. Why on earth would we judge each other?

We all have this knowledge, with or without cancer. But somehow, I feel more judged in non-cancer world. Non-cancer world scares me.

My wants and needs are different now

Although I say my life is no different to people who don’t have cancer, I’m learning that it is. My outlook on life is different. My wants and needs are different.

I can be in a room full of people and feel totally alone. I can sit on the train, or at parents evening, and wonder, am I the only one sat in this room with a Norman? Whose been affected by cancer?

It’s not a nice place to be.

I am still me

I’m incredibly lucky that I have a group of amazing friends and family who treat me as they always have.

Most days I wake up and smile. I might be feeling aches and pains, I might just be doing housework, but it’s my day. I get to live it the best I can.

I’m still Lucie. I might live with Norman, but I’m still the same me I’ve been for years. Some things I get right, some things I don’t. I just need to be treated as me and allowed to live how I’ve chosen to.

 

A version of this post was originally published on Lucie's blog.

Learn more about living with secondary breast cancer

Living with secondary breast cancer