Meet Stephanie...

Stephanie, breast cancer

When were you diagnosed and what with?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2016.

How did you find out you had cancer?

I was in the shower when I noticed a lump, so I booked an appointment with my GP and even though I had to be referred to the hospital for tests I could tell by his eyes it wasn’t good. I had a mammogram, ultrasound and core biopsy which all proved I had cancer. I was at work when I got the news as my breast care nurse told me the test results over the phone.   

What did you think and feel when you were diagnosed?

I was partly relieved when I was diagnosed because I felt that once they knew exactly what it was they’d be able to create a plan of treatment. It’s always the unknown that drives me crazy so I was happy in a sense that I now knew exactly what I was dealing with. I felt positive that I could get through the treatment and could imagine life the other side - not that it’s that easy, but I have a 5 year old son so he made for a great distraction. 

How did the people around you react? 

Telling people around me was the hardest part. I hate to see people I care about upset. It was hard to be strong when everyone around me was crumbling, but I felt I had to try to neutralise the sadness. I do remember asking my mum once in an appointment not to cry which in hindsight was a pretty tall order as we all deal with things in our own way. But I certainly felt the pressure not to get sad and just deal with it for everyone else’s sake.

What treatment did you have?

I had surgery, followed by 18 weeks chemotherapy, followed by three weeks radiotherapy.

How did you feel through treatment? 

I had my moments of pain and not feeling well, though I consider myself lucky that it didn’t halt me completely. I wasn’t ever laid up in bed for days or anything like that. I had a few side effects that I’d rather not repeat. I did not like the physical side effects at all and I was very self-conscious in my wig and couldn’t wear many of the things I used to. It’s taken, and still is taking, a lot of getting used to and adjustments. 

What happened after treatment finished? 

After treatments and once the side effects of radiotherapy had calmed down, I returned to work. My journey isn’t over yet as I’m hoping for reconstructive surgery and hope that then I won’t feel like my life is on hold.

How did you get involved with Shine?

I first saw Shine when I was Googling for people that can help when you have cancer. I noticed an opportunity to go on the Great Escape and meet other young people with cancer. I knew no one with cancer - no family or friends, and even though I knew I wasn’t the only one going through it, my God it felt like I was. I was amazed at how isolated I felt even though I was one of many. I felt like no one understood what I was going through.

What difference has Shine made to you?

Shine has ensured that I don’t feel alone, I’m surrounded by people that get it and that there is light at the end of the tunnel…all of which I couldn’t see at the beginning of this. 

How do you feel now about your experiences? What‘s been the biggest change you’ve faced?

The biggest change I’m facing is the difference in my body and accepting that it’s impossible for it to ever be what it once was. I’m finding that really hard. I’ve accepted it but I really don’t like it and I’m surrounded by people believing I should be grateful I’m here…anyway that is my current challenge. 

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself before your what would it be?

“Time will pass quicker than it feels”.