In February 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Within 3 weeks I was under the knife undergoing a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction using my inner thigh muscles. I barely had a moment to consider my mortality, my life was suddenly on fast forward. My thoughts were consumed with my children, then aged 9 and 10. I wasn't meant to die so soon... not before they were grown up and I could see them settled in their lives. The weeks that followed were tough to say the least. My thigh wounds wouldn't heal properly, particularly my right thigh which had developed seroma which meant that 8 weeks later I was back in theatre and immobile for a further 6 weeks. Despite the physical and mental trauma I underwent I consider myself one of the lucky ones. My cancer didn't spread; I didn't need chemotherapy or radiotherapy, though I have to take cancer busting drugs every day for the next 5 years. In total I was out of action for 16 weeks relying on my closest friends and family to ferry my kids to and from school, take me to weekly dressings clinics (a 50 mile round trip) and to look after us all at home. I consider myself very lucky to have received first class care at Broomfield Hospital with the best surgeons, nurses and support staff. My cancer was picked up early following a routine mammogram and for that I will be forever grateful.
The St Andrew's Centre at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, is the regional centre for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and services around 250 patients a year having free tissue transfer and sees patients from all over Essex, Suffolk, North and East London and even further afield. 1 in 8 of us will develop breast cancer at some point in our lives but if it is caught early enough our chances of beating this awful disease is increased immeasurably.
I am raising money for the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Charity because of the help and support that I received from the group during my treatment at Broomfield Hospital. I think their services are invaluable to those going through what I did last year. BRA funds meetings for those who have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer enabling them to meet former patients to help them make informed decisions on the options open to them. I found these meetings very helpful at a time when I was on autopilot and being hurried through my treatment. I will admit I didn't want to process what was happening to me and it helped me to focus on what was to come during and after my surgery. The BRA group also provides a stock of post surgery garments for patients in need, such as bras and compression shorts, as well as purchasing equipment to use on the ward or in theatre to enhance patient care. BRA provides support and equipment above and beyond what the NHS is able to fund.
I am doing 2 cycling challenges this summer to raise money for the BRA Group.
In June a small group of us will be cycling from Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford to Bournemouth, covering 180 miles over 2 days, to raise awareness for the services provided by the St Andrew's Centre. We'll be stopping at a couple of hospitals along the way but hopefully won't be visiting the Emergency Departments!!!
July 16th to 21st - I am cycling from Essex to Cheshire and back, passing through 9 counties, a round trip of 400 miles over 6 days!! And I will be doing it solo without any back up or support along the way. Some people won't even drive themselves that far in a car..so imagine doing it on your own on a bike!! After missing nearly a year of cycling I've started training hard again and this is certainly going to be an epic challenge for me.
The costs of both trips will be paid for by my family.
So please support me in raising funds for the BRA Group, every donation, no matter how small (or large), will go a long way to get me pedalling faster.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
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