My story

There’s nothing like the fear of death and having to face your own mortality to shake things up a bit in life. We all go through trauma in life. We all grieve, we all experience bereavement. We all have our worries and upsets. We all suffer pain. Things in life that make us feel like we are drowning. But there’s nothing like fearing your own death or that of a loved one. It really is scary stuff. It is brutal. It brings home very quickly just how precious life is.

A cancer diagnosis stops everything in its tracks. A cliché I know, but it does feel like time stands still. A dream like state which catapults you a million miles an hour towards a full-on ‘I could die’ state. It sickens you and your loved ones to the very core. It scares the living daylights out of everyone that loves you. It has that crippling power to change everything you once knew. It changes you forever. It changes your loved ones forever. Dealing with cancer or any life threatening illness or disease, whether it is you or someone you love can be devastating. And it is. Survive Be Alive is about what happens next. What can be done to deal with the situation.

One week before my diagnosis

I was fit, healthy and living my best life when I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer at 36 years old. We had got to the stage where we wanted to start a family. We had so much to look forward to. We’d talked about it for years and now was the time. We’d even got names lined up that we liked. Erin or Keira for a girl, Zach was our top choice for a boy. We talked about this a lot and were so excited at the prospect. We laughed that they would be full of character and that we thought they would have nice teeth. We thought they might be naughty but that they would grow up in a loving caring home and we would adore them. A little brother or sister to my gorgeous step-daughter. Every now and again I wish I could go back and be in that moment again. That looking forward to the prospect of getting pregnant and having a baby. But this was all put on hold when on Friday 13th September 2013, I, and my loved ones received the most horrific news. That I had cancer.

At that point I was training for the Brighton Marathon and weekly zumba and pilate classes plus other activities. However, I remember vividly that I was also struggling. I put it down to worry about my job at the time. I’d had sporadic pains in my chest for a few months and subsequent visits to the GP who couldn’t detect anything. It was on a run in the summer of 2013 that I found a lump on my left side. A visit back to the GP, was followed by a referral to the hospital.

In my heart, I knew on that first visit to Clinic C that all was not right. That same clinic with those same awe-inspiring staff was to become a familiar environment over the next seven years. I saw my consultant and he said he wanted my right side to be checked out too. I agreed that I too was worried about my right side. He wanted to be on the safe side. I had a mammogram and an ultra sound. It was in the ultra sound they said they wanted to do biopsies. I knew what a biopsy was, and so happy they were being thorough with getting to the bottom of this mysterious lump and my right side too. I had to wait a few more days after that first visit and I returned to have the biopsies done. This was a new world. I’d heard about these medical procedures over the years but never experienced it.

Tissue from both sides was sent off to be analysed and both came back as having issues. My consultant and what was to be my surgeon, and my breast care nurse walked into the room to deliver the awful news. I don’t remember being overly shocked at the news but I was understandably devastated. I was concerned that I would not be able to do my marathon. I also looked over to where my husband was sitting and said with tears in my eyes ‘but we wanted to start trying for a baby’. I remember being bombarded with unfamiliar language. All of a sudden thrust into a world which was alien to me. The following days were a blur of having to break the news to those I love the most. At first I didn’t want to tell anyone. But my lovely nurse advised that if I told everyone they would love and support me and help me get through it. And that is exactly what happened.

Shock and pain ripped through my family and friends upon delivering this news. And I couldn’t do anything to take away their pain. And I know they felt the same for me too. The night I got told, we went to see my parents. We ate fish and chips trying to fully understand the magnitude of what had been said to me. Trying to get our heads around what was ahead. Trying not to be scared.

I was diagnosed with a T2 32mm Grade 3 invasive ducal carcinoma HER2 positive tumour on my left side and on my right a T1 micro-invasive cancer plus 45mm of high grade DCIS {Ductal Carcanoma in Situ} HER2 positive. Well blow me down. Not quite what I had planned. Not one but two boobs decided they’d had enough and didn’t really like me anymore. They’d turned nasty and I now had to put my faith and belief into others to put them right. The next few weeks was like a whirlwind. We use these terms all the time but that is exactly how it was. Appointment after appointment. MRI and CT scans, bloods all pursued. On 9th October 2013 I was to have a bilateral lumpectomy to have the lumps removed. I was drawn on all over my top half by my surgeon in prep for where they were going to cut me. I was told that it was a relatively quick simple procedure. And it was. However, my recovery was not all plain sailing. Our best friend was getting married the following weekend and I wanted to be there. It was such hard work. I was in pain, I was exhausted, my body recovering from the trauma of being pulled around. I remember the start of the journey lying down on the back of our car, feeling ‘away with the fairies’. It was draining being on my feet, talking to people, trying to act normal. I couldn’t do my hair in the shower so a lovely local hairdresser did it for me. We were there at the wedding. And it was amazing.

I had to wait at least two more weeks to go back to hospital to hear the outcome of the lumpectomy. They gave me the great news that I had no lymph node involvement. They took lymph nodes from both sides too along with the lumps. This news was very welcome and such a relief. What I wasn’t expecting was what came next. They were pleased with the clearance round the left side lump. However, the lump on the right was bigger and they were not happy with the clearance. They advised for me to have a right side mastectomy. For some reason my brain had not even considered this eventuality. I said to my surgeon, ‘but my left side has had the cancer, can I please have a bilateral mastectomy?’. The answer was yes straight away. I was to have a bilateral mastectomy with skin sparring and a DIEP flap which is where they take the tissue from your tummy. I had to bring a sense of humour to it. A dark and satirical humour to somehow try and combat the feeling of foreboding washing over me. I was always joking saying I was going to get a boob job and a tummy tuck all in one go. Trying desperately to get my head around the craziness of what was happening.

Not only was I to have this major operation, but I was to also have chemotherapy, herceptin injections, tamoxifen and potential of radiotherapy. I think the enormity of it all caught up with me. One day, whilst at my parents working I got up from my chair and fell backwards. I felt completely drained. Like I was drunk. I laid down and when I went to get up I fell backwards again. It kept happening I could hardly walk. I went to A&E and was seen to by a doctor. This was to be the beginning of my relationship with vertigo. It would appear that me going through this massive operation mixed with trauma and anxiety and the fact I was in the same position for so long had dislodged the crystals in my ears. I couldn’t even walk unaided and was in pain. An overnight stay and some really great exercises saw me right. But that was a scary experience for someone not used to that sort of thing. I still suffer from vertigo now but now know how to control it.

It was not long after this that my lovely mother, in support of me had signed up to do the Southwold 10km in aid of Stand Up To Cancer. It was a big day for her. I know she was emotional as to why she was doing it and I also know that she is one of the strongest people I know so she would get round and get that medal. I am, and always will be so incredibly proud of my parents. But that morning waiting at the start with my mum wearing her SU2C shirt, I was filled with not only pride but admiration. It was so emotional. My mum decided that day she would stick two fingers up to cancer. And that’s exactly what she did.

My mum and dad at the Southwold 10km 2013

Subsequent appointments followed with various scans including a MUGA scan at the Nuclear Medicine department. I had a few of these throughout my chemo. This is where they scan everything to do with the heart. I also had bone density scans and a PET scan. Running alongside all this was my fertility. Not only dealing with the cancer but also considering what could be done in terms of conserving eggs. Alas, my body did not play ball and no eggs could be saved before my chemo started. Instead I was offered zoladex which they were to give me through chemo to protect my ovaries as much as they could. I was devastated deep down, but I knew I had to focus on my treatment and to get through this next stage.

In December 2013 I had genetic testing done. The fact I had two different cancers and bilateral breast cancer they wanted to check for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. I had to go to Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge. They talked through my history and family. The concern was if I had these genes then others in my family could have it too. I have a lot of females in my family so it was a massive relief when the tests came back as negative. Phew. I could then concentrate on the next part. Chemo.

On 23rd December 2013, my brother came with me to my first session. The beautiful nurses were all in Christmas spirit. So vibrant and bubbly. So strong. I admired and looked up to every single one of them. I was quietly crapping myself. I look back at this time thinking how incredibly surreal it all was. The saving grace with the first one is that you don’t know what to expect. The remaining five appointments I had my mum, my dad, my gorgeous friend and my husband come with me. It was nice to have the company. When I think back it’s a long time in hospital. Waiting, the preparation, receiving the chemo, recovery afterwards.

Chemo is hardcore. There is no other way to describe it. Having your body pumped full of chemicals. Soaring through your bloodstream. Having your energy drained. Having the constant flow of needles piercing your skin. The sickness. The emotions. The hot and cold sensation. The loss of taste. The side effects, of which there are many can be bad. Looking back I got off lightly compared to many others. I had a few things that were niggling or causing me anguish. I suffered from really bad gastric reflux which hit me hard after the second round. A striking pain in the chest that was scary. I still get this now and again. It flares up but I know how to control it. I also suffered from tongue and mouth sores. Which were really painful. But apart from that, I think the fact that I was super strong at the start of it all helped massively with the desire to just keep going and get through it. A feeling so many of us can relate to.

I worked throughout all my treatment. Looking back I am not quite sure how I did it. It was exhausting. I was lucky and I know very fortunate to be able to carry on relatively as normal as I could despite the enormous pressures of the diagnosis. I walked every day with my mum and the family dog which I know helped a lot. I also walked to my hospital appointments and chemo days. I saw my mum and dad a lot through that time as I was working from their house at the time. I also tried desperately to keep laughing and to just get through it. It’s so true what they say. Laughter really is the best medicine.

My hair was to go. I’d always had lovely curly hair. Although in the years leading up to the diagnosis the straighteners has become my friend. Which I still regret. I was warned that there was a strong possibility I would lose my hair but I could try a cold cap to counteract this. I opted not to use this and to go with the flow of dealing with whatever would come my way. Surprisingly this did not affect me as much as I thought it might.

After the first chemo on 5th January 2014 my hair started falling out. It came out in clumps. My lovely friend had cut my hair into a bob in preparation for the start of chemo. However to hold after it falling out was still very strange. I took charge of the situation and like so many is this same situation I shaved it all off. The following day my mum and dad stood there and watched my husband shave my head as my locks fell onto the kitchen floor. A mixture of pride that I’d done it but again the magnitude of what was happening hit me. I actually looked ok with a skin head. Over the coming weeks every single hair on my body fell out. It was such a weird sensation. My husband joked with me saying that I rocked the Kojak look. The little ones in my family confused as to why all of a sudden their auntie was bald. I tried on lots of wonderful wigs with different colours and shapes. A fabulous shop in Ipswich sorted me out with a lovely straight wig with a fringe. Not like my original hair but it was only temporary. Looking back I wished I had have gone for something a bit more different and feisty. I purchased a wig that I would wear whilst out and about, at work and for any occasions. But I didn’t like it. I didn’t get on with scarves either. The wigs are so hot and heavy. I preferred the more liberated bald look and became braver with going out and about as I was.

January 2014 – During chemo

During this period I tried so hard to keep some form of normality going and to enjoy life as much as I could. It was hard doing this though with the lethargic sensation that chemo brings. It was also very hard working through this period too but looking back I did the right thing. There was family gatherings and parties during this time which was so crucial in keeping me happy and sprightly and trying to enjoy life as much as I could even though I was hurting inside. The most memorable was my beautiful mother’s 60th birthday party. It was a great night. I hadn’t been drinking through the chemo but a couple of glasses of wine went down well. It was a celebration of my mother and it was an occasion where I was so proud to be in a good place to enjoy the night. That same weekend we surprised my mum with a family run. She said for her birthday she really wanted to run with her family. And so that’s what we did. I cycled alongside everyone. My wig causing me to overheat. I remember how liberated I felt when towards the end I just took my wig off and cycled bald. It was the perfect weekend. To have fun with my family. To focus on something so valuable to me, love and laughter.

A month after my last chemo I was to have my bilateral mastectomy. I was under the care of a well respected surgeon at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. An awesome man who made me feel so at ease and safe. It was a time of just not knowing. Again language that I’d never heard and procedures that I knew nothing about being discussed.

At Broomfield they specialise in plastic surgery. The most amazing hospital and staff. I can’t speak about them more highly. I’d had various meetings in the lead up to this operation. About what was going to happen, how they were going to prep me, details of how they were going to move my body around. Info on the recovery. There was so much to take on. I knew that this operation was massive. I knew that I was going to have a long recovery time. I knew that I was to be in hospital at least a week. The emotions leading up to the day were all over the place. It was so hard coming to terms with what was happening. I just had to put my trust into others to get me better. Leading up to the day I was ok with it all. Only slightly nervous about the anaesthetic and hoping all would go to plan. Waiting in the hospital to go in to the ward it dawned on me what was about to happen. This ginormous procedure was coming my way and it was daunting. I had to face it head on. Be strong. Get through it. And I did.

Five drains and a catheter and a heat blanket meant my movement was very restricted. It was hard having to stay still in those early days. The first day or so after surgery was packed with a concoction of medication along with a constant flow of surgeons, doctors and nurses. One time I woke to find a team of male professionals along with my lovely nurse surrounding my bed. They all wanted to look at my new boobs. On a serious note they were wanting to see the expert work that had been done to transform my body. I still think my body is a work of art. I have no idea till this day how they took tissue and muscle from my abdomen and that it successfully survived in my breast area. Just incredible. My recovery went well. Only a few hiccups. The main one being I needed a blood transfusion. As soon as it was deemed safe and a good time, the team got me to sit up and eventually moved me from my bed. I was ok to start off with. But things soon turned as soon as I got to the chair. Overcome with dizziness and breathlessness. Straight onto the air. Turns out my bloods were not quite right so a transfusion it was. That day I was so very grateful to the people who had donated blood and was now making me better.

May 2014 – After my operation at Broomfield Hospital

I was so proud that I’d got through this almighty ordeal. My body was behaving itself and although I was in pain things went to plan. Despite being drowsy I was able to ring my husband and parents after I came round from the anaesthetic. They weren’t expecting to hear from me. Funny enough. Especially after a good ten hour operation and recovery. But I wanted to surprise them. To let them know I was ok. My medical team at the hospital were out of this world. I still am in complete awe of each and every one of them and love them for the way they looked after me. I was lucky to have quite a few visitors over the eight day stay. It made me giggle when they mentioned my hair. I was completely baffled as to what they were talking about. I’d gone into hospital bald. And now my hair was growing back. A month after chemo and my hair was reappearing.

I also remember early on seeing my wounds. It’s strange looking back, considering what my body is like now. Back then my boobs and my stomach area was so raw. So sore. So painful. I had three months off work to recover. Getting my head around the changes to my body was hard. It took me months to fully appreciate and love my body again. I’d beat myself up regarding my body image. I was far too hard on myself. I’d lost my confidence. I was covered in scars all round my boobs, in my armpits, my stomach area and a new belly button too. I felt guilty for feeling this way. I should be grateful right. One minute I was happy. The next upset about the way I looked. But then something inside of me clicked. My body deserved me to love it. To accept it. I was alive. I had so much to be grateful for. I’d got through something so inexplicably scary. I’d faced my own mortality. And I was here to tell the tale.

I took my recovery very seriously. I was patient with my body. A lot of the time I was in agony. My husband became my full time carer. Helping me wash and get dressed. If I needed to rest I did, if I felt active i did more. Three weeks after my operation, along with my family I completed the Ipswich Race For Life 5km. We walked the route. In fact my entire family walked it with me. It was to be one of the most poignant beautiful days ever. And we did it. Crossing the finish line was monumental. So blimin emotional. The most precious day with those I love the most. And that kick started this overwhelming feeling of wanting to do more. To get fit. To use events and challenges as therapy. That event was the making of me with my recovery. The day I decided I could focus on the future and get the most out of life.

Ipswich Race For Life 2014

A month or so after my operation I started my herceptin injections. This was every three weeks where they would inject my leg. I didn’t react badly to this. Only remembering the heavy feeling that it created. A couple of months after the operation I started running. And I just kept running. As a lifetime runner it was my ‘go to’ activity of choice. I was like Forest Gump. In my element. Getting through the last part of my active treatment. Getting fit and strong again. We also got a dog. We had wanted a dog for so long. We chose the most precious puppy which we collected in August. This little puppy was to help me massively with my recovery. He became my therapy. He helped me get fit and get better. I also joined Slimming World. At that time it helped massively to compliment the sport and activity and helped me with toning up.

Subsequent events came swiftly after this eureka moment. That realisation that I could have some control over my life and I could try to make it what I wanted. Next came the Southwold 10km just five months after my op. My three brothers, my sister-in-law and I did this for Stand Up To Cancer. We raised a good sum too and managed to get in the local press. Not to stop there.

Southwold 10km 2014

Then came the next big thing. My youngest brother mentioned that he’d got a marathon place for the London Marathon 2015. I said that I thought I could do it with him. It was such an amazing time. We got so much press. We did so much fundraising too. Collections, Zumba event, quiz night and more. We even featured on BBC Look East News. A very proud moment. Still in active treatment and eleven months after my operation we crossed the finish line. In spectacular fashion. The most perfect day. The support we got from these events was out of this world. I’d really got the flavour now.

April 2015 – Virgin London Marathon
July 2015 – Last of my herceptin injections

A few months later I finished my active treatment. Hooray. The hospital visits became less frequent. I was doing so well with my recovery. I was super fit and super strong again. So I moved onto the next thing. I thought what better way to truly celebrate being alive than to do a set of challenges that would really push me, where I could try new things, where I could get others to join me. And so the 40 Challenges before my Big 40 was born. I started planning this in July 2015 to start the first challenge in August. I gave myself eighteen months to do it all. And it was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.

August 2015 – The end of my first challenge for 40 challenges, Southwold

We walked, we ran, we cycled, we danced, we tried new things, we did unordinary things. We did a crazy amount of fundraising too. I learnt so many new things. I planned my own events too for this. Some with family and friends and some individually. It was the most amazing time. Eighteen months of sheer Adrenalin pumping and excitement. Living my best life. Drawing on inspiration from all sources. Celebrating being alive.

Running in the background of all this was the aspect of my fertility. I’d not been able to save any eggs. Which was tough. But I was told that after two years of being on tamoxifen I could have tests and come off it to try for a baby. We were so excited, if not a little nervous at this prospect. I had a few visits and tests and my body was in good shape. I was told everything was normal and healthy and that there was no reason we couldn’t try to get pregnant. So that was our plan.

Heading towards my 40th birthday was more excitement than I could have ever imagined. The publicity and support I got was the best. So many wonderful comments coming in constantly. I had finished the 40 challenges and to finish with the day before my birthday, a big group of us ran 10km round Ipswich town centre. A superb evening and a really fabulous way to complete eighteen months of truly unexplainable hard work and sheer joy. A night to remember for sure.

I celebrated my 40th birthday in the best possible way. With my precious family and friends at a big party. We surprised our guests by dancing our Michael Jackson flashmob routine. So funny. And that was to mark the end of this life changing time in my life. So much achieved and so many accomplishments. Loads raised for charity. Lots of lovely medals. I was in my element. Happy beyond anything I could have expected. Life was looking good.

At my fabulous 40th birthday party

And then boom. Life took a turn again. Another very much unwanted turn. I had felt a lump in my right side in July 2015. At first I thought it was scar tissue but got it checked out anyway. Tests were done and it came back as fat necrosis. I was relieved and at the time carried on with planning my challenges. They said it was unharmful which it is, and said to keep monitoring it. Which I did. Fast forward to leading up to my 40th birthday. I knew deep down as I checked it every day that it felt like it was getting bigger. And it turns out I was right. Just after my 40th birthday I rang the hospital and an appointment was booked. I said that I thought it had got bigger. Subsequent events followed of scans, biopsies, bloods. To cut a long story short it was back. A recurrence of the right breast. 13mm high grade DCIS was there just under my skin. It went from the middle of my boob towards my armpit. This is very rare after a bilateral mastectomy. Everyone at the hospital was so upset for me. I needed to have another major operation to remove this entire area. I was devastated. Deeply traumatised by this news. Not only because I didn’t want another massive operation but I was looking forward to trying for a baby. Lots and lots of appointments and conversations followed with my consultant at Ipswich Hospital and the surgeons at Broomfield. Eventually they came to the conclusion that the best way to tackle this was for me to have a partial mastectomy and they would replace the tissue and skin taken with tissue and skin from my leg. What is known as an ALT Flap. I couldn’t believe this was happening again. I really had to do all in my power to muster up the strength to get through this. And I did. But it was so hard.

In May 2017, instead of trying for a baby, I was laying in a hospital bed talking to my anaesthetist and surgeons. Preparing myself physically and psychologically for what was to come. They called me Marathon Girl on the ward when they found out all the stuff I’d been up to leading up to my admission. Emotions were just too much round this time. I cried as my surgeon one side and anaesthetist the other, both holding my hands as I was put to sleep. I woke up a good ten hours later. After they had worked their magic, yet again. All had gone according to plan. My body was doing well. The tissue had taken. This time round though I was more concerned about my mental well-being than I was my physical side. I knew that recovery from this was going to be so hard. And it was. I howled in the hospital when they showed me my leg. I shouldn’t have looked. How could my lovely leg have this whopping great scar down it. Would my leg ever recover from this? Again I tried so hard to look at all the positives. To focus on the fact I was alive and that down to me being body savvy I was able to spot this problem.

May 2017 – The night after my operation
My leg just after my operation and on the right under a year later

My recovery was tough. I’m not going to lie. Two weeks after my operation I was told that they advised me to go back on the tamoxifen. The moment I was dreading. The chance of having a baby snatched away from me for a second time. This has been one of the hardest things to deal with. It still hurts every single day. It has taken me a good three years to fully get my head around this. It still feels like I’ve been stung when I see and hear news of babies. I am always so happy for everyone but it does always highlight a sadness too. I learn to control this but sometimes it’s just too much. In some ways it’s harder to deal with than the diagnosis.

Again, I took my recovery very seriously. The first month my husband became a full time carer again. I looked after myself. I was kind to myself. We were very lucky to be in a position to go on holiday, so that same year we went on another incredible adventure. We tried new things, we swam with stingrays, we visited the Florida Keys, we saw the alligators at the Everglades. We even stumbled across a Breast Cancer Awareness event lead by the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens on Caymen Island. Every single day of that trip was electric. It helped massively with my recovery. But it was masking an incredible pain. A pain that I had to learn to live with.

Having a reoccurrence is bonkers hard to deal with. Just when you think you’re strong and better, life has other ideas. The side effects can be really tough to deal with. I just kept thinking back to all that had been achieved and that I wasn’t prepared to let cancer rule my life. It’s such a confusing time being happy and sad at the same time.

Fast forward three years and life has presented some awesome opportunities for me and I’ve lapped it up. It’s also given me times where I’ve been so low and stuck in a rut. Going round in circles. Trying desperately for guilt not to rear its ugly head. I was gutted but thankful. I was scared but brave. I was happy but sad. But one thing remained. I knew how lucky I was and still am. And I had my awesome family and friends with me every step of the way.

Towards the end of 2017 I set up a project called Run For Research. It was a brilliant time. Quite a few runners joined the group and did their own event and fundraising. I was trying so hard to get back to my normal. In 2018, along with all my family apart from my husband we did the Halstead Marathon. To do something like this as a family was pretty impressive. I’m so proud of us all for what we achieved that day.

May 2018 – Halstead Marathon

But I was still finding life hard. The reoccurrence had battered away at everything. I was still active and happy and living a fantastic life. But the sadness of not being able to have children was causing me great pain and sorrow. I got by in my own way. Every day dealing with it as I saw fit. Some days I would have loads of energy and be on top form, other days I suffered and was very emotional. An opportunity was presented to us to get another dog. And so we went to see this beautiful little puppy and the rest is history. We now have two gorgeous dogs that bring so much love, laughter and joy to our worlds. They have helped with the void of not having babies. They are better than any therapy that I’ve experienced. They have helped take away the pain.

Other things followed which gave me so much hope. I do love a project or campaign and learning new things. I was given the Global Hero of Hope award for my work in promoting Relay For Life and cancer awareness. I was also given the This Girl Can Can Ambassador role which I hope to do more with especially with this project. I am also a Mental Health England First Aider. I also continued with being as active as I could. Always taking part in events, running, cycling, walking, trying new things.

At Relay For Life Clacton after speaking as a Global Hero of Hope July 2018

I am out the other side but I am never ever complacent. I always check my body. I am always vigilant. I also know how to spot warning signs about my mental and physical wellbeing. But I live. I eat and drink what I want. If I want to be lazy for the day I will do so. I don’t feel guilty if I cry. But it’s taken time to get to this place. I have experienced elements of post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, flashbacks, sleep problems, panic attacks, guilt, grief have been there a lot over the years. I have also been sick more times than I care to imagine and been in pain. But I have dealt with each of these things in my own way and with help from some really brilliant people I’m living my life as best I can. I have sought the advice from some of the most awesome people. I have learnt that I have a high pain threshold. I now have to put my big girl pants on when faced with needles, or seeing blood or going for scans.

I’ve also benefited and utilised from some of these wonderful people and groups during this time includes; YBCN (Young Breast Cancer Network), Macmillan, Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Now, Working with Cancer, my GP, all my healthcare professionals, my surgeons, my breast care nurses, my oncologist.

My family and friends have been out of this world. They were there for me. And I love them dearly. They have all played such a crucial role in keeping me grounded, being there when I need them the most, keeping me sane, making me laugh and smile and supporting me throughout. Being there along the way playing a crucial part of my story.

And so the very last part of this section is what I did next. It’s what this website is all about. Making the most out of life, dealing with crap when needed but ultimately trying to always focus on the good and what makes us happy. What makes me laugh and smile so hard I could cry. So Survive Be Alive was born. I’ve had this name for a long time now. A blog that has been there for a good year. It’s time to build on this project. And look to the future again. To deal with anything that comes my way and to make the most of every single day. Every single second is like gold dust. I am definitely living the life I aspire to live.

June 2020 – After completing the Three Peaks Challenge on my stairs during lockdown ❤️

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