I was diagnosed with breast cancer on my 47th birthday in 2015. A week later, further scans revealed that the cancer had spread extensively to my lungs.
My first thought was that my girls were only 10 and 13 years old and they really needed their mother.
I got through chemotherapy much better than I expected, with wonderful support from my family and close friends. I focused on staying as fit and healthy as I could. Physically I was doing well, with the tumours shrinking by 50 per cent during chemo. I commenced letrozole and was booked in to have my ovaries removed.
It was just after this that my mental health hit rock bottom.
I had been seeing a psychiatrist through my oncology team, but he wasn’t really helping me. I was severely depressed, as I couldn’t get my head around this new reality of living with advanced breast cancer. I felt angry with people telling me to stay positive or not understanding that I wasn’t going to get better. My oncologist suggested a small dose of antidepressants, which I reluctantly agreed to.
I found a good psychologist and I was referred to a support group called ‘The Thursday Girls‘ for women with advanced breast cancer. This combination worked wonders for me and finally I felt like myself again.
The Thursday Girls group meets weekly and is facilitated by two experienced social workers. I felt an enormous sense of relief that finally someone understood my situation. We learn from each other and inspire each other, and that’s what keeps us going. Oh, and there’s lots of laughter too!
My cancer has remained stable on letrozole and I enjoy an excellent quality of life. Each morning I do tai chi in my garden and say my daily mantra – ‘I am healthy, I am happy and I am hopeful about the future’. The support and friendship of The Thursday Girls has helped me truly believe my mantra and get on with making each day count.