GET INVOLVED Natalie What cancer were you diagnosed with? Breast Cancer What age were you diagnosed? 25 What has helped you to thrive? I can’t narrow it down to one thing. Aside from my closest and dearest, who have all been there for me, I have to express my appreciation for the Breast Care Nurse Team based in Gloucester and Cheltenham. They have looked after me and introduced me to other great organisations. I started with Maggie’s after my first chemo (the side effects kicked in later that day) and was warmly welcomed. It is basically a hub where you can feel safe and relax, and the free tea helps! Knowing what Maggie’s has to offer, I have enjoyed a fair few classes including the Look Good, Feel Better session which really cheered me up on a day where I did not want to leave the house. I have also attended art classes and yoga lessons, but there are so many other activities to attend! Through Maggie’s I heard about Trekstock, which offers an online community, alongside young ambassadors who are brilliant and inspiring. This charity opened the doors to Cancer Chicks and the podcast You, Me + the Big C which reminded me I’m not alone in my thoughts. I must also say having chemo can be the worst, but the wonderful chemo nurses make the experience a little less bad and I found myself not dreading the chemo room as much. If anyone needs a book recommendation, I strongly suggest Lisa Lynch’s The C-Word, it’s funny, relatable and just what you need sometimes. Most importantly, I always have something to look forward to! Do something that gets you out of the house most weeks. You can always cancel, and whoever it is will understand. Natalie's Story Cancer. We see TV ads and posters about it all the time. But when you actually have cancer it feels like a forbidden word, like saying Voldemort out loud. Although after the last few months facing the Dark Lord sounds like something I could tackle. Now getting back on track, the c-word is generally hard to accept, and it was no exception to a 25 year old. I’ll be honest; by the time I was diagnosed in August 2019, it wasn’t a surprise. Even through my numb reaction, I thought to myself, ‘of course it’s me’. One out of five young people have cancer and I had become a reluctant statistic. The breast cancer news hit me particularly hard as I had been travelling the last few months to mark a celebratory end of my 3 years abroad, including 2 years in Australia. The truth is I was aware of my lump while travelling, stubbornly I decided to wait a few weeks until I was back home to go to the doctors. If you take anything from reading this, please act as soon as you can even if it does scare you. The truth of the matter is that cancer changes your life, your outlook and most importantly you. I found there was a ton of ‘hard stuff’ to manage such as experiencing fertility treatment to freeze your eggs and the ‘joy’ of chemo brain. But all of this leads to becoming a new you, a different you but in some ways a better you. Now not to sound like a self-help book but remember the following. Be open to finding your new normal. Be kind and patient with yourself. Lastly, whenever you have your doubts, remember you are 100% enough.