GET SUPPORT GET CONNECTED Your Voices Fay What cancer were you diagnosed with? Stage 2b ER+ breast cancer What age were you diagnosed? 33 What has helped you to thrive? My two young children, Evelyn 3 and Cooper 2, have been my motivation for thriving since my diagnosis. I wanted to carry on as normal as possible for them as they are too young to really understand. I explained everything really simply for them so they would know to expect that some days after chemo, I may not feel very well or be tired. But that it was ok because the medicine was making me better. Wedding planning for next July has also been a pleasant distraction for me during treatment. I think having something to look forward to at the end of treatment is massively helpful as it has given me a goal to work towards. And the days when the cold capping was getting too much, I had that as my motivation. Fay's Story The country had been in Lockdown for just under a week. I had just spent my evening planning lessons and activities for my key worker group of children at school and I felt life was good. My partner David had been furloughed from work and so far we had enjoyed a simple week of daily walks and spending quality time with our two young children. How quickly all that changed...As I was getting undressed for bed around 10pm on Sunday 29th March, my hand brushed past my right breast and felt a very obvious lump that I had not felt before. My heart sank immediately and I felt sick and panicked. David saw the look on my face and asked what the matter was so I told him what I had just felt. He told me not to worry but I could tell from his expression that he was worried too. He told me to try and get some sleep and phone the GP in the morning. We went to bed shortly after but all night I kept feeling the lump and comparing it to the other breast. By morning I had talked myself out of phoning the doctors as I thought it was probably nothing. I only made that call because David dialled the number and shoved the phone in my hand! Reluctantly, I phoned up and was given an emergency appointment for 11am that same morning (Mon) and by the morning after (Tues) I had a referral appointment for the hospital through my door for the next day (Wed). I couldn't believe how quickly I was being seen, especially as we were in a pandemic. On Wednesday morning, I made my way to the hospital alone (Covid meant I had to) and saw a breast consultant who had a feel of my breast and then sent me down for an ultrasound. The sonographer didn't give much away but said there was a lump there so she would have to do a biopsy. I then went back to see the consultant who barely even looked up from his laptop and said, 'don't worry, it's highly unlikely to be anything but you will hear from me in a few weeks'. And that was that. Off I went home. The two week wait was agonising. I couldn't stop worrying and numerous times broke down in tears. David was the only person I told - I couldn't bare to worry my parents or sister. Fast forward 2 weeks and I was back at the hospital. I had to wait for an hour and a half all alone in the waiting room. David and the kids were waiting for me in the car and I kept texting him to say I was still waiting. I remember watching women go in before me and all come out with smiles on their faces. I kept looking at the nurses wondering why I had not been seen yet and wondered what they knew that I didn't. It was torture. Finally I was called in. The consultant sat down with my file and a Macmillan nurse was there beside him. And at that moment I knew. 'We didn't think it was cancer, but it is. I'm so sorry'. Those were his words. I was in complete shock. I broke down and phoned David who was anxiously waiting for the call. All I could say was, 'it's cancer'. He asked what that meant. I said I didn't know but to take the kids home, make sure everything was normal for them and that I would phone him later as I had to go for more tests. The trauma from those initial moments still deeply haunt me. The worst moment of my life. I spent all day having ultrasounds, further biopsies of my lymph nodes and mammograms (I was occult - meaning the mammogram didn't show my lump at all!). I had a metal clip put in my lump so the surgeon would know what to remove. The nurses were absolutely wonderful. They looked after me with sweet tea and biscuits until David came and we both went back to see the consultant who, after the most traumatic day, made me feel so much better about the situation. He told me that I would need a mastectomy initially as Covid meant that Chemo and Radiotherapy was not currently an option. I was just relieved that there was a plan and if it meant losing my boob then so be it! In the following weeks, my Macmillan nurse became my guardian angel. She phoned me regularly with updates from the MDT meetings and I was able to phone her whenever I had a moment of panic. I would have been lost without her. As for David, he was my rock and much needed source of positivity and voice of reason. Those days would have been much darker without him. At the end of May I had a Mastectomy. By the middle of June I got the all clear from the surgery and on the 27th Oct, I finished 6 rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy. I cold capped through it and was happy with the results. I will start radiotherapy at the end of November so still have some way to go before finishing treatment but I'm looking forward to saying good riddance to 2020, a fresh start and getting married next year!