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Julia's Story

I was 47 years old with my 3 gorgeous boys aged 22,10 and 7 at the time. Life was great.  I had my dream job and my family  had time to spend together.

Then I found the ‘lump’. I was messing around and literally brushed  my left breast with my hand and thought ‘what was that?’ I prodded more  and found that when I lifted my breast up and pushed from the side, that I could feel quite a large mass. The GP saw me the next day when I was  referred to the one stop shop at Hexham. I was literally gobsmaked to find out that I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer. They thought I had 2  tumours close together which combined measured 7.7cm. First check of my  lymph nodes no cancer was detected but by the end of my chemo they found that my nodes were affected. Although my husband was with me at diagnosis we heard the word cancer and caught very little else of the conversation.

Weirdly, just 6 weeks later my sister who is 9 years my senior, was diagnosed with the exact same cancer in her right breast. Gene tests came back that we are both BRCA negative.....

My journey started with FEC-T chemotherapy 6 rounds over 18 weeks. Week 1 I was floored. Week 2 saw a slight improvement. Week 3 I just like normal before I went for my next treatment and feeling ill again.

The next step was lumpectomy but sadly they couldn’t get everything and just before Christmas 2017 my left breast was removed and all nodes in the left arm and the surgeon was unable to offer me any reconstruction either. Radiotherapy followed that with 15 rounds in 2 places. Towards what I thought was the end of my treatment, the oncologist decided that my FEC-T hadn’t been as effective as hoped and i then had a further 6 months of Capecitabine oral chemotherapy.

Finally my treatment ended in October 18. A full 18 months after diagnosis. I am declared  cancer free but take nothing for granted especially when finding out not long ago that my sisters cancer has metastasised to her lungs and she has sadly, been given 12 months to live.

I’ve always thought that I didn’t need anyone throughout my journey and I just got on with it, continued working all the way through and I had a very positive outlook on life. I knew about the Breast Friends group however due to work commitments etc, at first I couldn’t go.

After my sisters further diagnosis I decided that I’d need help. Especially from other people that have been through a lot of the same. I took my first step and attended group and wouldn’t look back now. They are a lovely group who made me feel welcome the second I walked through the door. The future is never clear and I know I have many hurdles to climb but it makes me feel assured, just knowing that the group are there. I’m so looking forward to making strong friendships and helping to help others.