Those of you who know me will be aware of the eventful 4 months that I have had. For those who don’t know me I’m Liz, a 36 year old married mother of two, currently living in Leeds, UK. My amazing husband is Will and my two cheeky and inquisitive kids are Archie (3 years old) and Elsie (10 months old).
The Past Four Months:
In chronological order here’s what’s gone down in recent months (both cancer and non-cancer related) that’s worth mentioning:
– I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation (increasing your risk of breast cancer by 40% and ovarian by 50%) following my sister Clare testing positive in April 2016 and being diagnosed with breast cancer 17th June 2015.
– I went back to work after 7 months on maternity leave after having our youngest Elsie.
– My husband Will got a job promotion.
– I was referred to the family history breast screening programme and onward referral for a routine MRI.
– I was referred for ovarian cancer and had a ‘to do’ with the geneticist when in his first breathe he casually said “hysterectomy”! I’m only 35!!
– I had my first MRI (check out the cow udder MRI pic above 🤣). In my defence my boobs are hanging down with a 4inch pole in between!).
– I received a letter saying my MRI provided ‘insufficient information’ and I had to go for a mammogram.
– I had my mammogram because a small lump had been found (X marks the spot above) which needed further testing. Following an ultrasound of my lymph nodes and 5 biopsies, I was told by my consultant “it does look worrying”, and was swiftly taken into a bereavement room with a cancer nurse.
– I went to Live at Leeds festival with Will (and these crazy kids 😝) and stayed out until the early hours.
– I was Sous Chef extraordinaire for Our Cath’s supper club night in Leeds (read the review here).
– We finally moved into our new house after an 8 month long drama (minus Will as he was in San Francisco on a work trip – he’s not stupid 😂).
– I received my biopsy results back which tested positive for breast cancer, and I was promptly booked in for my double mastectomy with reconstruction for 3 weeks time.
– I went on a successful/emotional bridesmaid dress shopping trip for my little sister Maria’s wedding – in 5 weeks time 😬. Not quite knowing what my boobs are going to look/feel like and with the knowledge I won’t be able to hold Elsie walking down the aisle ☹️.
– I had my 36th birthday party (This is always important don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).
– Our Clare started running!!! The kid who viewed PE at school as a masochistic task, and the least infused member of the family when it came to sports – a fellow BRCA2 and ex-breast cancer squaddie too (more on her later).
– Our son Archie celebrated his 3rd Birthday. We enjoyed a life affirming weekend away camping in the Yorkshire Dales with my siblings and nephews.
– I had my surgery for breast cancer. Left mastectomy and sentinel node biopsy, a right risk reducing mastectomy, and a bilateral sub-pectoral implant ADM reconstructions, no less.
So not much then………
My Breast Cancer Diagnosis:
I’ve started my first ever blog just 70hrs after surgery whilst in recovery, with the intention of cataloging my experiences of living with the BRCA2 gene, being diagnosed with cancer, and for my own mental health as much as to keep friends and family informed of my progress.
I’m very much not a victim and don’t want pity. It’s part of lifes ups and downs. It’s how you process and react that’s important not just to you but to those who surround you. There’s no right or wrong way to manage times of difficulty. It’s a very unique thing and engrained in both your personality and your experiences growing up. But for me it’s completely untested territory.
Having an openly loving and supportive childhood with plenty of laughter and fun has been a fundamental building block as I’ve got older. Coupled with an amazing (and incredibly patient) husband Will, two adorable (and totally bonkers) children Archie and Elsie and an amazing second family in the Spices, on Will’s side.I couldn’t be in a better place to take this challenge on. I also have my loyal friends who can make light of any dark situation – don’t ever change.
My favourite quote at the mo was sent on from one of my oldest and dearest friends Briggs which sums up where I am now:
‘Things often get tougher before they get easier. Stay strong, be positive. We all struggle sometimes. Your struggle is part of your story’
And so here goes my story …
Liz, 24th June 2017