I was so lost when I found out I didn’t know anything about breast cancer, the booklets I was given were so scary I knew I needed to talk to real women like me, around a similar age that were going through this or had survived it.
At first I turned to images on instagram, success stories, survivors who looked happy and had a good life despite what happened to them. My surgeon soon advised I start to look elsewhere for inspiration as I was seeing images of perfect implants and thinking that’s what I would end up with. He said they were US sites and women who had paid a fortune for the perfect result.
I looked at the Breast Cancer Care website and found the forums and information helpful but what really helped me so much is private Facebook groups. I joined younger breast cancer care UK, flat friends and UK breast cancer support group. To get access to these groups I had to show I had an awareness of breast cancer and explain what stage I was at. The women in these forums are very welcoming and supportive. I was constantly messaging girls my own age and finding out more and more about breast cancer.
The Facebook forum, younger breast care network, is a closed group full of women under 40 all going through breast cancer. It is instant answers to all. Your questions and I don’t know what I would have done without it.
Sometimes there is support and advice as well as really helpful tips. It builds you up and makes you feel less isolated. Everyone of going through the same thing. However when I was approaching chemo I did hear too much information about side effects which made me panic and assume I would get those side effects which I never actually did. Everyone react different so it’s important to know this before reading everyone’s unusual after effects.
Another negative is hearing about people who have been given the worst news possible, as I get a notification for every post I have often had a good day that’s turned. Ad after reading such sad news and assuming the same news is headed my way.
In the early days before my ops I got talking to a woman called Christine who was having a hard time we both started messaging each other and before too long we decided to meet up in Newcastle with two other women she knew from the forum.
On 10th October I met Christine and Rachele who have already started chemotherapy. It was amazing to see them, we met at freeman’s hospital.
We have spoke online and their stories give me hope. Me and Christine have shared our frustrations and worries about the future and joked about the bum deal we have been given, sometimes things are so bad all you can do is laugh! We don’t even lose weight we put on weight due to steroids! Not fair!
We ended up attending maggies centre and they fit us into the look good feel good course which was really good. We were shown the correct way to apply and remove make up and given some fantastic products to take away all free of charge.
We got some great goodies and learned how to look after ourselves during treatment. I went back to Rachele’s and met her three dogs which was nice as I was thinking about getting a dig myself.
Throughout chemo we all chatted daily about our problems and cheered each other up. If any of us were low we were there for each other. Nobody understands what we’re going through but the chemo Girls will always understand we have been through the same journey and we are willing to help each other through it step by step.
We all met up in Newcastles metro centre as we are around one hours drive away from each other. We only had two hours which went by so fast it is amazing how comfortable we all feel. In each other’s company! We wen to chiquitos and had a lovely meal. Rachele was quite coned out from her medication and we all had our fears about the road ahead.
We decided to meet in January after the busy Xmas period was over. We knew of an event at a hotel for cancer patients and decided to go along and stay the night. This allowed us to meet up with Louise another lady from the forum as well as some women who had various types of cancer
When we met everyone had finished radiotherapy or was close to the end, I was due my last chemo then radiotherapy so we were all celebrating. Luckily we all felt full of energy despite treatment (the three course meal certainly tired us out). It was great to have a drink and relax and talk aboir something we could all relate to such as hot sweats, itchy wigs, chemo/rads, reactions, medications and ops.
I’m lucky to have met people in the same situation as me and we plan to meet up again and yearly for a big night out. This will always remind us of the battle we faced together.