In 2010 I was on holiday in France having lots of fun, however a dark shadow fell over the trip when I discovered a lump in my left breast. I was told that I had stage three breast cancer. I had my first surgery 10 days later and then chemotherapy started almost straight away.
A few years after my treatment I was excited to be able to start work again. However, a few months later in 2015 I found out I had stage four bowel cancer.
Now I am 47 years old, I am a mother to my beautiful son who is only eight years old and a wife. Chemotherapy makes me feel so tired. My oncologist, Professor Steven Clarke, does everything to make my journey easier and also happier. Through my treatment, my life is being extended and I have more time with my family.
Currently my treatment is going well. What I have found to be personally very powerful is to think of myself as living with cancer rather than dying from cancer.
I am using this time to learn everything I can and appreciate the beautiful things in life. I love playing the piano, creating art and learning languages. The French singer, Daniel Guichard has been a huge source of inspiration for me.
My girlfriends are a huge source of support and inspiration for me. Women are so empathetic and sensitive. My girlfriends offer me nothing but support and inspiration.
In particular, the women from my taekwondo class and my son’s school are practical, empathetic and sensitive. They always want to help. They cook meals, look after my son when I need extra support and they even planned his birthday party and a weekend away for our family!
One of the most important things you can do to support a woman in your life who is affected by cancer is to make sure she is not lonely. Don’t be scared. I walk at the beach every morning and my friends take it in turns to join me, it means a lot to me.
You can be there for a friend even if you are far away. I am known for wearing bright lipstick and one day during my treatment, all of my friends posted pictures of themselves on my Facebook page wearing lipstick – even the men! It made me smile and reminded me how much they care.
I have also received a lot of support from Cancer Council which has helped me cope both physically and emotionally. The emotional support is sometimes just as important.
My advice to other women is to always listen to your body. Prevention and early detection is so important and it’s something you can start doing today.