Guest Post. I found the amazingly talented and inspirational Laura through her beautiful work on Instagram a short while ago. Whilst admiring Laura’s beautiful crafts we spoke of the awareness month I was completing. Laura very kindly agreed to share her story. Please head over to Laura’s page Folky Flo and give her equist creations a little look, they are truly magical!
My Cancer story by Laura from Folky Flo
My cancer story begins at the end of November 2016 or maybe it begins in July 2016 when i had a routine Mammogram. That Mammogram gave me the all clear – no unusual signs or masses. I skip along the next few months oblivious to what was really going on inside.
Late November I felt a lump – not a round circular lump as I would expect a tumour to be but a long sausage type of lump at the very top of my right hand breast. It didn’t raise any alarm bells at first, I thought it was possibly a strained muscle due to my achy shoulder from my Bollywood Zumba class (yes Bollywood Zumba!!)
A few weeks later and it was still there nagging me. I saw my GP just to check it out. Here began the first of many baring breasts situations.
Doctor, “Don’t tell me where the lump is, lets see if I can find it and if it corresponds with your findings”. She felt the left hand breast first.
Doctor, “Ah yes yes I feel it, its deep in this breast, am I correct?”.
Me, “Err no I felt it in my right!”.
Doctor, “ Yes there is a mass in the right too”.
Yikes, i hadn’t any idea of the left. It was so deep within the breast I wouldn’t have know. Fast forward to biopsy, CT scans, ultrasound scans …..CANCER confirmed in both breasts, but not connected. Two different types of cancer, very unusual apparently. Oh lucky me.
The right hand breast contained a nasty aggressive HER2 + tumour I named it Donald (Trump). He would need some serious chemical warfare to deal with him. On the left was a more common type of cancer, I named him Nigel (Farage).
February 2017 I began the fight with the help of The Royal Marsden, Chelsea. Eight rounds of Chemotherapy, spread over six months. Then a bilateral Mascecetomy with immediate re construction after.
I mourn the loss of my breasts very much. They fed my babies and they looked nice but they were beyond repair and had to go. I was spat out the other side of all of that. It was hard at the end. Hair loss was always the ‘ballbreaker’ . Wig wearing I hated very much yet I couldn’t face announcing to the world that I was ill with a bald head.
I stayed as normal as I could be. At the beginning of the treatment I thought that it would be very unlikely that I would be able to make any of my Art Dolls. The great thing is that i could still create. I was much slower but I did complete dolls which did sell. What a gift that was. It got me through.
I was lucky that my cancer hadn’t spread, although I’m well aware it could make an uninvited appearance again at a later time. It knows the way in. I am now on a various cocktail of drugs that help stop the re occurrence. With time I can come off the various drugs.
For most people it would look like its all over now – back to normal- cured. No, not that simple. Its harder now than when I was in the middle of the treatment. I live with the fear of it coming back. I manage this with therapy which helps. Im told it gets easier as time goes on. Also the physical cost from deadly chemicals, basically poison pumped into your body. It does kill a little bit of you as well as the cancer. Achy muscles, joints, sparse eyebrows, dry flaky nails to name a few of the side effects.
My new boobs are good but unnaturally round and firm….for a 52 year old anyway! I can’t really lie on my front anymore. No nipples either just two 11cm horizontal scars. I will have nipple re construction at a later stage but after having recent preventative surgery to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes (I carry the BRCA 2 gene which gives me a higher chance of getting Ovarian Cancer). I need a break from surgery as i found this last time a bit gruelling.
But the positives are in abundance! Im still here, yes number one positive! Ive also realised how much I’m loved by family and friends. Its made my true friends shine in my eyes. I have to mention my IG friends too who are precious. I cherish each day, I look at the trees, animals, the blue sky the beauty all around and see it all in technicolour.
This is my story so far and my message to you all is please get to know your boobs. Check them regularly. Don’t rely on Mammograms alone. Being breast aware could save your beautiful life.
Laura Folky Flo