Individual
Denise
United Kingdom
Story

What Cancer Means to Me!
Every cancer experience is unique to the patient. This is my experience, and my way of saying ‘thank you’ to all of the amazing professionals who’ve taken such great care of me.

On World Cancer Day, I want to tell you what it means to me in the hope that I can inspire more people into action.
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World Cancer Day will always be a significant day for me... Why? Well, my first operation to remove my breast tumours fell on that day, Thursday 4th February 2016. I remember thinking
to myself, of all days, my op had to be on this day!

On reflection it was a good thing because, as a Cancer Research UK media representative, I managed to place an article on the Race for Life website, as I was preparing myself to tackle their 5K after my treatment was finished, which I did three days after my radiotherapy, my second year taking part. I felt very proud when I completed the 5K, and I also had the opportunity to talk to 1,000 women on stage about my experience, encouraging early  detection and breast cancer awareness. On the day of my operation I saw my update appear on their page, and all the messages of love and support started to flood in, which really spurred me on.
My tumours, albeit small, were in the left quadrant of my breast, and the surgeon who worked with me discussed my options. I decided on a breast mammoplasty reduction-style surgery and was extremely delighted with the result, but most importantly the margins were clear of cancer. On 19th January 2017 I had symmetrising surgery on my right breast.

I have been treated at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital Breast Cancer Unit and was so impressed with the overall care and multi-disciplinary team approach, which consists of your own dedicated breast care nurse, surgeon, oncologist, radiologist and pathologist, not forgetting the ward nurses. My dream teams!
Another NHS establishment that was part of my overall treatment plan – twenty-one days of radiotherapy – was at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. My time here was a real awakening for me. I was collected every day by a contracted hospital taxi firm and they certainly brightened up my day! Very caring, thoughtful and funny gentlemen – they made such a difference.

Whilst at Mount Vernon I had time to process my cancer experience, and an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and life- affirming feelings grasped me. I met incredible staff and women, and I have to say, it has changed my outlook on life! I saw humility and kindness beyond measure, something I will not forget in a hurry.

I remember watching a clip on YouTube of Lisa Schwartz, MD, MBA. She says...
“I think the triumph is defined by the patient, because there are some patients that will go through their treatment and they will have been so changed by that treatment emotionally, that they’ll go back on and give back to the community, inspired by the lessons they’ve learnt and for them that’s their triumph!”

Well, this is my story of triumph, and my way of saying a massive ‘thank you’ to the L&D breast cancer ‘team’ and to our wonderful National Health Service (NHS).

i recently have written a short story self help guide, which includes survivor tips and stories; it's for charity. It will be published on 28th February,,2021. It's called Conquering Cancer Together. 

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