Knowing that I was now under the care of a Christie consultant meant I could start to think about a future
Since being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in October 2016 and treated at The Christie I’m now aiming to raise £25k for breast care at The Christie as a way of saying thank you for my treatment.
Back in 2016, in my mind, I was a fit and healthy 55-year-old. There was no history of cancer in my family and I thought cancer was an illness that would never affect me.
How wrong I was though! I had been suffering from back pain since May 2016 but because of my phobia of doctors, I had gone to see a physio thinking I had a sporting injury. After a few weeks, he said that I should see a doctor because I wasn’t responding to treatment.
My GP referred me to a rheumatologist and a scan showed I had a secondary tumour of the spine and because of my age the most likely source of the primary tumour was my breast.
Within days I had seen a breast surgeon who told me that he was optimistic The Christie would be able to treat me. That gave me a real boost and knowing that I was now under the care of a Christie consultant, I could start to think about a future.
My consultant was amazing. Recognising the seriousness of my back condition and that without surgery I would end up losing my ability to walk, he took responsibility for the coordination of my care. I was really starting to struggle with my mobility and it was imperative that my back was sorted as quickly as possible. Neurosurgeons performed major emergency surgery in November 2016 and I was miraculously out of bed within 36 hours of surgery and learning to walk again.
Within a month I was able to walk with the aid of a stick and was back at The Christie.
My consultant assessed that I was fit enough to start 18 weeks of chemotherapy but I was upset that I couldn’t go back to work because of the toxicity of the drugs.
Although the chemotherapy was tough, I also had funny experiences on the way, managing to get myself admitted to hospital with a high temperature, only to find my thermometer was broken!
Fortunately, I responded to the chemotherapy well and returned to work in April 2017. Since then, I have been able to combine an active life and work with ongoing treatment. I had radiotherapy on my back and I have immunotherapy infusions and regular scans to check there hasn’t been any further spread of cancer.
I am determined to lead a normal life for as long as I can, and my way of saying thank you is a fundraising campaign – the Windmill – which will raise £25k for breast care at The Christie and £25k for the neurosurgery department at Salford Royal.
I won’t give up until the last penny has been handed over!