I went to see my GP in July with a lump. I wasn't overly concerned, I thought it was just a cyst. I'd had cysts before over the years, so I just thought, oh it'll just be routine. My GP was great and she said, 'I think it's a cyst but let's get it checked.' She got me in quite quickly at the Thurmaston in Cheltenham, so within a fortnight I went to hospital and saw a guy who gave me an ultrasound and he said there and then, 'You know, you're a really sensible lady, I'm going to tell you, I'm pretty sure this is breast cancer.' It blew me away completely.
I then went downstairs and had a mammogram and met Eleanor, the surgeon, who said, 'Yes, this is cancerous, this is a hormone cancer.' And we made a plan then and there, which was great. She gave me a choice, did I want chemotherapy first or did I want an operation first to get rid of the tumour? I chose the chemo which she thought was a wise decision. She said there wasn't a bad decision, I could have gone either way, it didn't really matter. But she thought that for me, that was the way to go - we could shrink it before operating.
'I remember saying to my daughter some years ago, we're alright, because it's not in our family.'
A lot of my cousins have had children who also have children, and nobody has had breast cancer in the family. And I remember saying to my daughter some years ago, 'We're alright, because it's not in our family.' And I think if I'm honest, I've not really encountered people with breast cancer. So I had this cocooned life where it doesn't happen to people like me, it's other people, it's when it's rife in families and you've got this hereditary gene. But when I spoke to Eleanor she said, 'It's just bad luck. It's a hormone cancer, and you're just unlucky. There's no reason for it, it can happen to anybody.'
I think if I'm honest I thought, I'm going to die — because my close friend had died. And I just thought the two go. I can remember seeing Eleanor, but the only things I remember her saying were words like 'aggressive' and 'rapid'. It's funny because she was probably quite positive, but I think when you're in that kind of meltdown you just tune in to the negativity and you just think this is it. I remember sitting there saying, 'Am I going to die?' And I just remember her saying, 'I don't know.'
So I went home and we told the children — which was probably one of the hardest things — and then we waited, and I started my chemotherapy in September.