PUBLISHED ON: 21 October 2018

Janet was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. She talks about her ongoing treatment, and how her friends and family keeping her busy has helped her cope. 

Janet and her daughter

I felt like I had lost something

I was at the free practice for the British Grand Prix last year when I got a call about my breast clinic appointment.

I started to panic, but my friend told me not to worry until I was back at home.

I went in for my appointment on 31 July, and I was told that I had breast cancer.

When I found out, I was completely terrified. It felt like I had immediately lost something and had an instant sickness that just went right through me.

I thought that I was going to die. My aunt had breast cancer, but because my mum hadn’t had it I wasn’t considered particularly at risk. I was shocked.

I ended up having a full clearance of my lymph nodes, chemotherapy, a mastectomy and 15 sessions of radiotherapy. The full house of breast cancer bingo.

My mum said, ‘You can’t die before me’

Breast cancer is like dropping a pebble into water. It ripples out and affects everyone else around you.

My mum was devastated when I was diagnosed. She kept saying, ‘You can’t die before me.’ I knew it was hard for her and I ended up telling some of the people who were calling to check on me to talk to her. I think she needed some support too.

I worked one week out of every three throughout my chemotherapy. Everyone was fantastic and supportive. If I felt too tired to come in, it was entirely up to me.

Work was a great distraction. I just buried myself in my job and found that always being busy was the best thing for me to do to get through it. I was determined to take my mind away from what was happening to me.

My treatment hasn’t stopped yet

My treatment hasn’t really stopped yet. I’m part of a clinical trial and am still on hormone therapy for the next five to ten years. Although my appointments are slowly petering out, I don’t think the impact of what’s been happening has hit me yet. I’m still caught up in it all.

It helps that I have two small children, whose focus in life is themselves. Aside from when I’m going to appointments, I don’t really think about my breast cancer.

Janet and her family

Sharing experiences is so important

Something that helped at the beginning was finding groups online. I’m part of the Younger Breast Cancer Network Facebook group, and although I didn’t share anything personally, just being a part of the group and seeing people asking questions that I had been worrying about was incredibly reassuring.

Having a space where people can share their experiences, opinions that you wouldn’t share with your family, is so important when you’re going through one of the toughest things you can go through.

Breast Cancer Care has really helped me. The day I was diagnosed, I was given an entire folder filled with information. It explained everything from start to finish about what I would be facing. It helped me know from day one what was ahead.

My breast cancer stopped me from going to the British Grand Prix

I’m unbelievably excited to have my name on the Force India car at the US Grand Prix.

I’m a massive Formula 1 fan. Usually, a group of friends and I all go together to the British Grand Prix. We were meant to go this year, but I didn’t feel well enough, so none of them went. They wanted us all to do it together when I felt better.

We’re thinking of going to the Belgian Grand Prix next year, which I’m determined to get to. We’re trying to work our way around all of them!

Be patient and kind to yourself

This year has been the hardest of my life, but I feel incredibly lucky to have the support that I have had from my family and friends.

I would say to anyone going through their own breast cancer diagnosis to be patient, and to not compare yourself to others. Everyone’s different, and you can’t be down about not being able to achieve something just because someone else can.

Although it’s not easy, being kind to yourself is the best way to make it through.

#ShareTheCare this Breast Cancer Awareness Month and help more women like Janet get the support they need by donating today.

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