Hey there, I’m Felicity. I’m mid 30s, very vibrant, and I’m a crazy cat lady that loves music! I’d say that I’m a pretty ordinary person. When I was only 28, I was diagnosed with hormone receptive breast cancer.
I had no idea that anything was wrong. I was fine apart from having constant coughs and colds which I couldn’t seem to shake. One March Sunday I was washing my hands, and I noticed in the mirror a strange deformity in my right breast . I went to see the doctor on the Monday and within a month I had a complete mastectomy and reconstruction of the right breast. As the cancer was already in my lymph node, there was no chance of waiting as that would have allowed the cancer to spread even further. I had a biopsy and then surgery, which is very intrusive, but cancer is an intrusive disease. It all happened so quickly and my head was in a spin. I felt like my world had fallen apart!
Everyone involved in my treatment right from the begining, has been amazing. NHS Frimley Park Hospital really were amazing. I have since moved and am more under the care of Queen Alexander in Portsmouth. Although this hospital has a much larger area to cover, I can’t fault any of my care. It also helps that my parents are both biologists.
I chose not to have chemo the first time. I had the surgery, which damaged my nerves and still causes me problems today. I had radiotherapy, that causes sunburn type side effects and I was on two types of hormone suppressing drugs, one for five years and one for three years.
Unfortunately, just before the five year point the cancer came back and this time it was right on my brachial plexus so they couldn’t operate. There was no choice but to have chemo this time. I can’t even begin to describe how getting diagnosed and being treated a second time changed my world, how it destroyed all my dreams. I got married to my wonderful and very supportive husband on the 17th December 2014, and started chemo on the 2nd of Jan 2015. Our honeymoon was spent in Frimley Park hospital as I was so ill.
The chemo made me feel really sick and I ended up in hospital with a massive infection after my first two infusions. I also had to take an oral chemotherapy tablet that I ended up being allergic to. I lost most of my hair and gained two stone. I had seven infusions overall and after that was told that they couldn’t see anything on the scans.
My body has been changed forever. I can’t have children because any oestrogen in my system would cause any possibly-remaining cancer cells to grow. So having a baby would literally kill me. I will have to be on hormone suppressing drugs for the rest of my life or until they stop working. Unfortunately, they will stop working at some point. It’s all a waiting game. It’s like living life with two shadows. Every scan, every appointment, every twinge, causes my anxiety to sky rocket.
Treatment has been ongoing for seven years so far and it will continue forever. The treatment is never done. It’s now about trying to work out a life with cancer and all the side effects. I now have to deal with having osteoporosis due to the hormone suppressing drugs. It’s having to deal with going through a chemical menopause in your 30s, it’s having your dreams torn away from you and trying to build new ones on an earthquake-prone foundation. Planning for the future is almost impossible as you have no idea when it could start taking over again. I have monthly injections, and hospital appointments where my blood is checked, every three months. Due to the radiation risk, they don’t do too many scans.
Finally home from hospital and able to put make up on, feel more like myself.
My life is completely different to what I’d ever imagined! I can’t have children and am not allowed to adopt. Planning for the future is impossible. I have to deal with people thinking I’m completely “normal” because I don’t look sick. I also have to try to accept that some days it’s okay to fall apart as most of the time I’m holding it together pretty well. I still can’t fully escape it. I still feel it’s shadow, it’s creepy fingers holding tight and not quite letting me go. I refuse to stop laughing though, I refuse to stay pushed down, and I refuse to let darkness cloud every moment. I love my friends and I love my family and am so grateful for them, and for my wonderful husband.
Check, check, and check! If you don’t know what you’re looking for, get a doctor to check for you. Breast cancer doesn’t run in my family and I don’t have the gene.
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