In this guest blog, Bronwyn talks about being diagnosed with breast cancer with a three month old baby.
So where do I start, the having a baby part or the getting diagnosed with breast cancer part. Let’s be honest, the two do not make the most ideal mix. One in itself is life changing enough let alone the combination.
I found a lump in my breast three weeks after giving birth to my first born. At the time I wasn’t too concerned as I was breastfeeding and was reassured that it was ‘just a blocked milk duct’ and it happens all the time so don’t worry, just massage it out. However, this did not do the trick and over the course of the next seven weeks my ‘blocked milk duct’ (aka aggressive cancerous tumour) grew to 39mm. By this point I had given up on the idea of it just being nothing and started the process which led to my diagnosis.
I was diagnosed when my son turned three months old and I started my five months of chemotherapy two weeks later, just four days before my 29th Birthday… Happy Birthday to me.
Now the mix of young baby and chemo is not something I would wish upon anyone. I struggled to say the least. The sickness hit me like a truck at high speed and I spent most of my mothering hours just trying not to think about it until it was baby bedtime and I could collapse into a heap on the floor.
Treatment would have been so much easier without a baby in tow, I could have stayed in bed and rested 24/7…. But no.
I do see it as a positive though, I still got my rest like a normal mum ha! But I also had someone who literally made me focus on something else and definitely kept me busy.
The thing is, you need to keep yourself together as you have to take care of someone else as well as yourself. It’s so hard but it can be done.
I did not have the greatest support network around me, everyone close to me kind of freaked out and didn’t know how to help so they just didn’t. I lost friends, I argued with people who let me down including my partner at the time. The stress and upset of all those around me who just weren’t helping was too much at times. I was dealing with being a first time mum and going through aggressive treatment for cancer and the only person I could rely on was myself. I had to get myself through this treatment not only for me but for my son.
So how did I do it?
Firstly, I knew I had to. I didn’t want to be unwell or not be around to watch my son grow. I had to get through this. I would look down at my baby boy and just cry, why did this happen to me? Why now? I wanted to focus on being the best mum I could be but instead I was so unwell and in and out of hospital. But at the end of the day I did have him, he was my motivation, the little light in my life that kept me going and made me want my life back more than anything.
He got me up and out every day, I kept active and busy all throughout my treatment. Going on daily walks and trips out with my little boy, yes it was exhausting but I always felt better for it. My focus was him and my health. Keeping myself busy, in a strict routine not only for me but for my son and keeping distracted was essential.
I found it extremely hard asking for the help I needed during my treatment, mainly because it’s just not in my nature. At the start of my treatment I had spoken to those around me and asked them to help with certain things to ease the stresses for me. This didn’t last though and slowly I found myself needing to ask and ask and ask for simple things from those around me. I can honestly say that this was the hardest part of my treatment, the lack of support from my loved ones. I always look back and wonder how my experience would have been if I had been surrounded by more naturally nurturing people.
With that being said, I do look back and see that I got myself through the toughest battle of my life, with very little love and support while raising my first child. I look back and think, wow! I did so well to keep it together. I am so strong. My son will be so proud of his mother.
Something that really helped me, before, during and after treatment was doing my own research on what I was going through, the treatment I was receiving, if there was anything I could do to improve my chances of not only surviving cancer but to recover my body from the brutal treatment it had just been through. It gave me a sense of empowerment and still now, two years out of finishing my treatment I feel in control of my life, health and wellbeing.
Cancer opened my eyes to the world, to my world. I did a huge detox after finishing treatment both physically and mentally, cleansing my body of the toxins it had been crammed full of and having a fresh start in life. I removed myself from negative energy and didn’t allow what I had been through to hold me back. I moved to the other side of the world and made the decision to leave my partner and go out into the world as a single mum, I am the healthiest and happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
There is so much more I could say about my struggles over the past two years, the fear, stress and heartache that cancer brings into your life is never ending. I do truly believe that taking charge of your health is the first stepping stone to dealing with all of this. For me, it really is as simple as a healthy diet and exercise. Telling myself that I am strong, healthy and happy. I can get through anything life brings my way, I beat cancer. I struggled but I did it.
My son was my cheerleader, although he didn’t know it at the time I will tell him when he gets older how he helped mummy survive, just by being by my side.
Sylvie and Danielle began Future Dreams with just £100 in 2008. They believed nobody should face breast cancer alone. Their legacy lives on in Future Dreams House. We couldn’t continue to fund support services for those touched by breast cancer, raise awareness of breast cancer and promote early diagnosis and advance research into secondary breast cancer without your help. Please consider partnering with us or making a donation.