Support from family and friends

Before I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer I naively assumed that you got cancer, you got over cancer or you didn’t! What I didn’t realise was that my cancer diagnosis would become a part of who I am and that it would live with me forever.

The date I was diagnosed is etched on my mind and each year as the day looms, my mind takes me back over everything that happened that day and I relive it all over again. Every year that has passed, I have felt a tiny bit more like celebrating living another year, and I try to look back without reliving the sadness and devastation that I felt on that day which changed my life forever.

One of my strongest memories of that day is of all my family and friends visiting me when I arrived home from hospital.

We hugged, cried together, felt angry together and talked and talked about every minor detail of the days leading up to my diagnosis, all the fun times we had shared together, and the things we would plan to do in the future.

I felt so comforted by all this love, support and positivity.

But when they had to leave, I felt I was left with this cancer in my body that nobody could take home with them! The pain inside me that night was all consuming and I felt jealous and angry that everyone had left me with something so awful to deal with “on my own”! I didn’t sleep that night, and what I learnt soon after is that neither did any of my family or friends. They felt the same devastation as me and they did actually take some of that pain home with them. I wasn’t ever 'on my own'.

Your family and friends that love you deeply, feel that pain too.

I will never forget how my breast cancer diagnosis nearly “broke” me, the panic attacks I experienced over the next 6 months that came from nowhere and how all my confidence seemed to disappear overnight, as I felt the control over my life had been taken away from me.

But looking back now, I remember all the people who stepped up and carried me through my toughest, darkest days that followed, and helped me to look for something to smile about every day.

I feel now that cancer is not my enemy and I will live for the rest of my life, however long that is (nobody really knows that!) with cancer as part of who I am.

I feel I am in a privileged position to be able to write this blog. 

I want to support others that unexpectedly end up on a road in life that you never expected to be on…. You are not alone, let others hold your hand, carry you when necessary – it doesn’t make you weak, it will make you find a strength inside yourself that you never knew existed.

Jo Pawlett, diagnosed with Breast Cancer, age 36.