Louise, United Kingdom

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Back in November 2015 just days before my 35th birthday I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer.  I did not respond well to chemotherapy with six cycles having no effect on the tumour.  I was given a mastectomy then went onto a third different type of chemotherapy drug.  Treatment had to finish early as my body began to struggle with the effects of the treatment.  After ten cycles of treatment, two blood transfusions and a stint in intensive care with sepsis I then went on to finish my treatment with radiotherapy some ten months later.  I did not expect to live to see 40, as the treatment had been so difficult.

Before cancer I was unfit and overweight and had a poor diet.  Cancer was a wake up call to the lifestyle choices I had made.  In order to give myself a better chance of survival I made dramatic changes.  I stopped drinking alcohol, lost over three stone in weight and started eating healthily.  I began to start exercising after treatment was complete.

During the worst parts of treatment, I was unable to walk much further than up and down the stairs in my house or to the car.  After treatment I started to walk, swim and ride a bike.  5 years on after reaching that magic age of 40 and getting the all clear I took up running.  In the space of two years I have gone from a non-runner to completing 3 half marathons, a marathon as well as numerous 10k events.  Last year I ran 1000 miles in a year, raising lots of money for a local cancer charity in the process.

I chose not to have reconstructive surgery after treatment.  My scars are testiment to what I have been through.  I live my life now as an example to others that there can be life after cancer.  I want to inspire people to believe in themselves, and to not be ashamed of their scars.  Cancer has made me a stronger person both physically and mentally.  I am grateful for the second chance at life that I have been given.