I am Rachael, aged 41, and mum to a beautiful 4 week old (a position I never thought I would be in). I also currently wok for Roche Products Ltd as a contracts manager in Pharma Research and Early Development.
In 2012 – my life changed for ever. I found the lump the previous November, but waited until after Christmas before going to the doctor. On 16 February 2012, aged 36, I was told I had breast cancer.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your world is turned upside down. You live from appointment to appointment and you can’t plan anything, which was a tough. But I decided to try and keep some sense of normality / control – for me that meant working through my treatment. I was triple positive so would need chemo, surgery, Herceptin, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
One of the hardest parts of the cancer was friends. We generally assume that our friends will be supportive in a crisis, but after cancer, we learn this may or may not be true. Its amazing how many people run for the hills when they hear the word cancer, and other friends (who I really saw as acquaintances) totally stepped up. I might be bald with no eyelashes and look a sight – but I was still me!
It was after treatment had finished that things really started to hit me. Having time to process everything and the emotional upheaval afterwards was huge. I had no idea how I was going to put the fragmented jigsaw that was my life back together.
Fast forward to now. I’m back at work full time. My main focus outside of work is Younger Breast Cancer Network UK – a peer support network for younger women with breast cancer. It has had no funding and started from grass roots. We now have 3000 members and work regularly with charities such as Breast Cancer Now and Breast Cancer Care. The group is a lifeline to many – just ask our members. Find us at @YBCN_UK.