PUBLISHED ON: 19 October 2018

After one and a half years living with secondary breast cancer, Charlie sadly died earlier this year. She worked with us to tell her story and share what life is like with the disease. 

I thought I would be able to go back to normal

In March 2017, I noticed a change in one of my breasts.  There was no lump, but it felt slightly denser and heavier than the other so I made an appointment to see my GP.  She couldn’t feel a lump either but referred me for further tests, to be on the safe side.

I really didn’t expect there to be anything seriously wrong. I had no family history of breast cancer and I was only 38. It was a huge shock to be told it was breast cancer.

Initially my oncologist was very reassuring when talking about the treatments available, and that it was likely to be just a ‘blip’. A year of treatment and then I would be able to go back to normal.

Whilst I was still trying to get my head around my diagnosis, I was hit again. Just two weeks after learning I had breast cancer, I was told that it had already spread outside of the breast, and I was diagnosed with secondary metastatic breast cancer.  

Being informed has helped me deal with my diagnosis

I had no idea what secondary breast cancer was. I thought that breast cancer could only be in your breast, right? Wrong. My spread was in my chest lymph nodes and spine.  Secondary breast cancer is also commonly found in other bones, the liver, lungs and brain.

On that day, the breast care nurse gave me some leaflets from Breast Cancer Care. For me, taking control in any way that I can has helped me through my diagnosis, and I craved information and facts. I feel that if I am well informed then I can be an active participant in my treatment, not just a passenger along for the ride. Breast Cancer Care has been amazing in helping me achieve this.

I signed up to one of the Living with Secondary Breast Cancer support groups quite early on, and I’m so glad that I did. There is nothing quite like sharing experiences with other women who just get it. I can’t thank Breast Cancer Care enough for facilitating the courses.

I've realised what the important things are in life

I have also been able to work with Breast Cancer Care to help raise awareness of secondary breast cancer and to assist them in their work on supporting others like me. It's something I feel very passionate about.

What has happened to me has really made me realise what the important things are in life.  It’s not the time we have left that matters, it’s what we do with that time. 

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Secondary. Not Second Rate