After Betty was diagnosed with breast cancer, she faced a seemingly endless stream of appointments and treatments. She was looking forward to leaving it all behind, but found that once her treatment finished, it was harder to move on than she thought.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with grade 3 invasive cancer of the left breast. I was also told that it had spread to the underarm lymph nodes. I was 61 years old and looking forward to a nice, long retirement. I had so many plans – none of them included having cancer.
A week after being diagnosed, I had an appointment with my oncologist who outlined my treatment plan. I was told I would be having chemotherapy, followed by surgery. And then more chemotherapy, radiotherapy and something called Herceptin. I would also be taking letrozole for three years followed by tamoxifen. It was just so much to take in all at once. This is when I first rang the Breast Cancer Care Support Line. They helped me understand some of the jargon used.
My life for the next 17 months was to be a constant flow of hospital appointments and treatments.
Life after treatment
Eventually the day came for my last treatment and I found it felt like the day I left school (yes, I can still remember it – just!). I was on my own and, weirdly enough, it felt like I had a void in my life.
After finishing my treatment I found myself suffering from fatigue. I found it very frustrating and at times debilitating. The mind was willing but the body was not, and because of this I had some quite low moments. I didn’t feel like I was moving forward with my recovery or my life. This is when my breast care nurse suggested I go on a Moving Forward course.
The Moving Forward course took place one morning a week for four weeks, and covered subjects like healthy eating, exercise, lymphoedema and cancer fatigue, among others. It was so good to talk to the other people attending the course and compare notes. I quickly realised that it was not just me suffering from these symptoms. I wasn’t alone. The course itself was very informative, helpful and answered a lot of my questions, but most of all it was also fun and enjoyable. I learned a lot from it.
The day I felt ready to move forward
When the course finished, I felt a lot happier in myself and that the only way to go in my life was forward. After that point both my husband and I were able to move forward together. We recently renewed our wedding vows to celebrate 45 years of marriage and are looking forward to our next holiday together.
When you have breast cancer, you live in fear. You’re afraid what will happen if the treatment doesn’t work or if the cancer comes back. But as time goes by, you grow stronger and you start to enjoy life again. I have learned to appreciate things more and that life is for living to the full and not for dwelling on what might have been.
Struggling to move forward after breast cancer? We were there for Betty and we’re there for you too, from the day you’re diagnosed to the day you move forward.
Call our nurses free on 0808 800 6000 for care, support and information from day one.