Elaine's Story

How Do I Begin 

To quote a well know song ‘How do I begin ‘– my cancer journey started with a routine mammogram in April 2012, it was my 3rd one and I debate going as the radiographer had been so awful to me the last time but I decided to go and have it done, 10 days later I got a call back to the breast clinic at this point I honestly didn’t think anything was wrong, at that time I was a big lady with the big boobies so I assumed that it was because they needed a better picture- how wrong was I, in fact I told no-one not even my daughter about the appointment so when I turned up on the 10th May and was presented with a hospital gown and the words ‘the biopsy will be done after the mammogram’ I was stunned in fact I looked round to see who the nurse was talking to.

The staff were kind and the appointment passed in a blur, I felt fine, I hadn't felt a lump surely it was a mistake but the scan told another story, I can remember get back in my car in the pouring rain (of course) and phoning my best friend –who was out, going home intending to watch mindless TV – power cut!! , how to you tell people, what do you say, you have nothing concrete to tell them and you don’t want to be a drama queen.

The next week I'm back at the clinic –this time with a friend to be told what I think I knew – you need a full mastectomy and probably other treatment, no option it’s multi focal – how did I not know?

Still now I have a solid monster to face so what do I do? I meet a friend and have a bottle of wine, then I go to my daughters and have a bottle of wine, in fact that weekend was spent mostly enjoying several bottles of wine!!

Surgery comes and goes, no real pain but although I was a nurse for 30+ years I did find it hard to look at my scar for the first time, recovery wasn’t easy several trips to the hospital to have seromas drained, then chemo – unlike anything you can possibly imagine, I never even want to see a thin arrowroot biscuit or have SMASH again as they were the only things I could eat for 4 months still I did lose weight!

 I also had to have Herceptin but lucky no major side effects from either, the hair loss was interesting and ironically I used to colour my hair because I started going grey in my 20’s and just 3 months before I was diagnosed I asked my hairdressers what I could do if I wanted to stop colouring – her reply you will need to shave your head, ha-ha- the universe likes a laugh , I was also very lucky to have 3 ‘angels’ friends who supported me in different ways- shopping, appointments and emotional , I know my daughter found it hard and I live on my own so help from friends was vital.

For me the worst part of my treatment was the radiotherapy, I felt so vulnerable lying there, I hated every minute and was so happy when it was over in time for Christmas, it felt like a real milestone.

"I'm grateful for everyday" - 

In June 2013 I did the 5k Walk for Life with my pregnant daughter and proudly wore an Annabel’s t-shirt. What a great day!

I took Herceptin till the following October and 2 days before my last dose my daughter gave birth to a son, my amazing gorgeous grandson, who I love more than thought possible.

I’ve now had a reconstruction which was very important to me and I feel better than I have in years despite the aches and pains of approaching old age!!! 

So now 3+ years on how am I? In a word, FABULOUS – I reduced my hours at work , I lost 5.5st and became a Weight Watchers leader, I spent time with my grandson and I love life , I am grateful for everyday and very proud that I am an Annabel’s Angel , and a member of the class of 2012. We always say, the club that no one would have chosen to join.

Elaine -