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Jackie's Story

I lost my Husband to secondary cancer at the beginning of 2017. He was the love of my
life and we thought he had cracked it in 2014, but it wasn’t to be.

I was diagnosed 9 months later. I really can’t describe how it felt at the time as when people mention the big C I think of my Ken and my loss. There has been articles how the loss of a loved one can cause cancer, especially Breast Cancer, but who knows? The only time I cried was when they were going through my details and asked if I was married. I was on autopilot the rest of the time.

As anyone diagnosed will tell you, the next few weeks were taken up  with Appointments, Scans, and Biopsies, I had well over 20 Biopsies and  initially it was thought to be three in my left Breast and 1 in my Lymph nodes. Very quickly it went from a Lumpectomy to full Mastectomy with  expander implant and reduction on the right side. I was ok with that as I’m a widow and no one is going to see my boobs again!! Before surgery it was mentioned that I may need Chemo and Radiotherapy, but I think personally it was a definite and when they confirmed that I broke down, I had watched my Ken suffer so very badly through them both. But I had promised the children I would have whatever they suggested at the RVI as I did and still do have total faith in them.

Surgery was successful so the surgeons said. I did have a couple of complications, but it was ok. It was during my chemotherapy treatment that I struggled the most, It’s not nice, I live with my son and to put him through all the worry was awful, It’s very undignified and frequently spent days upstairs as even my feet hurt and couldn’t get upstairs in time to go to the bathroom. My oncologist decided that enough was enough and stopped the treatment before the end. I got through Radiotherapy just fine, absolutely exhausting but ok. It was a dark time for me, only someone in the same situation can understand that having to rely on your children is so very hard, I wanted and always will want to be the mum they come to for help and not the other way around. I missed Ken so very much and I really wasn’t sure if I could get through it without him. Nobody would know this as I’m always cheery, I just hid away when I wasn’t able to cope.

During this time I saw a comment on Facebook asking if anyone in Derwentside would be interested in getting together for a chat, a coffee and meet some Ladies who also have been affected by Breast Cancer. I will be totally honest and say that after the first get together, I was scared, I had had my surgery but nothing else, but I have to say it was actually better for me. It prepared me for the months ahead, Doctors and Nurses are lovely, but when they say you may be a little poorly, or a little sore, well they haven’t had it obviously!!!

Clare, Emma, Linda and Gemma were lovely and welcoming and wanted from the beginning to know how to help me through it all. Knowledge is power and armed with this I knew that if my vision blurred or went a bit deaf it was common side-effects. I’ve made fabulous friends, we swapped tips and advice, tried a whole host of different ways to tie a scarf  around your head, Made scrumptious hand scrubs, enjoyed a girlie Valentines night and many more daft things, but, we do have a serious side, if one of us is poorly we keep in touch, but don’t bombard them, we designate. We support each other when we can but understand that it’s ok not to.

I’m lucky, I have such an amazing family and friends, I have Derwentside Breast Friends if I ever need them and when I don’t they are still there. We are a strange lot, each and every one of us has our own unique story to tell but the one thing in common is what gives us strength and courage.

My life is different now, I get told from my son I’m out to much enjoying myself and that I need to stay in more !!! Role reversal or what!! But I don’t know what’s around the corner so that’s me.

I’ve cried tears writing this but hope it helps even just one person understand the Breast Cancer journey.

Jackie x