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Read the full interview below:
Female First - August 2013
‘Your Guide Through Her Breast Cancer Journey’, is an easy-to-follow informative book that explained everything from breast cancer diagnosis to coming out the other end. I wrote it for the friends and families of breast cancer patients who sometimes feel in limbo when someone they love is diagnosed. It breaks down the medical terminology into easy-to-understand explanations providing tips and advice on how the patient would be feeling, how they could help and most importantly, to give them an insight into my personal experience so that they had first hand information.
Please tell us about the day you were diagnosed with breast cancer.
Nothing can prepare you for the moment when the doctor tells you that you have cancer, the shock is overwhelming and I remember I couldn’t hear anything past the diagnosis as my ears went numb. I’m glad that my husband was with me so that I wouldn’t have to break the news to him myself but as the doctor kept talking, I just kept thinking ‘How am I go to tell my Sister and parents?’ and then the knock-on effect of my family and friends finding out my news.
You discovered a lump on your honeymoon, so what went through your head at this point?
I found the lump when I was in the shower; I didn’t have my usual shower scrunchie with me so I was using my hands to wash. I’d never self-examined my breast for lumps as I naively thought I was too young for breast cancer so when I felt the lump I wasn’t afraid, just curious to what the peanut sized lump was. It was only when I got home and my doctor suggested that I went to the hospital that I thought that there could be possibly something more seriously wrong.
What was your lowest point while receiving treatment?
Losing my hair, eyebrows and lashes was pretty tough. I felt unattractive and quite shocked at how I looked as my skin was grey and swollen. I remember looking in the mirror one day and wondering who the person was looking back at me, I didn’t recognise myself as it seemed to have been only a month or so ago that I was wearing a bridal gown and beaming with happiness.
Why do people forget how it affects other around the sufferer?
The focus with any illness is always on the patient and it’s usually their closest friends and family who support them along with the medical staff. As no one ever really can predict an illness or when treatment is needed then the usual reaction is to ‘just get on with it’. The same thing happened when I was diagnosed; my family and friends pulled together to help me and help each other and as none of us knew anyone that had been through the illness before, we learnt as we went along. Having now come through it all, I have the answers to all of the questions that I (and all those who supported me) wanted answering which is my main reason for writing this book.
How difficult was it to relive your experiences to create this book?
When I started to write the book, I couldn’t stop! It felt like the words were pouring out of my fingertips and it was cleansing to get them out of my head and onto paper. It was only when I read the published book that I realised what a huge journey I’d actually been through and the grief hit me quite badly for a few months after.
How did you family support you?
My parents are from Greece so a close family is very important to our culture and I have a large family so there was always someone popping in, either with food, wanting to help with chores around the house or just visiting to keep me company. Laughter was very important to lift my spirits and help with my recovery so my family made sure that I kept my sense of humour!
Why is it important to you to pass on your advice and knowledge about breast cancer?
Since coming through the treatment I’ve met women who have been newly diagnosed and I’ve passed on my knowledge of the treatment and written out checklists for them for what to buy and have to-hand when the side affects hit.
It’s like most things really, it’s only when you experience something first hand that you truly understand it fully and unless someone has been through cancer treatment before, it’s hard to understand what the journey to recovery is. So if I can help a husband understand their wife’s illness and make them feel like they’re ready with all of the knowledge to give them the best support, then that’s the most important thing I can do in my life, is to pass that knowledge on.
Please tell us about your involvement in cancer research and breast cancer charities.
I’ve raised a lot of my money since I was diagnosed with breast cancer including £18k for Cancer Research UK. I feel it’s important to give something back as it’s the research that went into cancer that gave me the best treatment plan. I also support Breast Cancer Care who are an amazing charity that offered advice and support when I was diagnosed. I did a 10k walk for Breast Cancer Care and I was also one of the models in a fashion show that they put together that went on the raise a staggering £75k!
What is next for you?
I take every year as it comes and my milestone is every March when my yearly mammogram results come back. I don’t like to see past then as I don’t want to take anything for granted anymore.
by Lucy Walton for