So, Hello!! this is me, Nikki…the girl who hides in a crowd, doesn’t like attention or fuss. The girl who was told the only reason she could do English O Level was because I had to. (I did manage to scrape a C grade in it though). 33 years later and here I am writing a blog!! Well Ed Sheeran was told he wasn’t good at music, so I’m in good company, I’ll give it a shot.
On 16th October 2018 my life changed forever when I was told that I had Grade 3, HER positive Breast Cancer aged 48. In that moment the illusion that I was immortal was shattered and I sat wondering what my children’s lives would look like without me in it?
I thought I’d had my mid-life crisis 3 years earlier when after 22 years of marriage (and 27 years together, but who was counting) my husband said that we should separate. OK it wasn’t that out of the blue, but still a shocker so I decided that since my kids had chosen to go to universities as far from home as possible that I would join them and 2 months later I packed my car with just my personal possessions and headed ‘up Norff’ to Leeds to live in my daughters student accommodation for a couple of weeks, while I got furniture together for my rented house.
Since then I divorced, bought my own house, met Mark – moved in with and married him and got a mad puppy Jessie, so that we could enjoy long walks in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside with her.
My kids – Olly (27) now lives in Salisbury, having finished his PHD at Durham University in something to do with rocks. (Remember when we were at school and wondered what the point of algebraic equations were…well he writes in them and I still can’t see the point!). Millie (25) still lives locally to me which has made this whole cancer experience much more bearable.
My sisters, Tracey is a year younger than me and Gemma is 10 years younger. I loved having a baby sister and we are all very close. Between them I have 2 nephews Reece and Max, and a niece Megan. When I lived in Kent I saw so much of them so its been harder dealing with this 300 miles away.
Family are everything to me, I was 22 when I had Olly, and although often it was was hard I wouldn’t have wanted my life any other way. I loved being a mum, and creating a home. We both worked part-time to share childcare which gave us a lot of time to be out and about enjoying walks, cycling and camping in puddles (you could have predicted the weather by the dates we took holidays!)
There are so many people that have supported me through the last 18 months, especially friends Katie and Mel who I have known since primary school, Sarah who I worked with in Dover and Veronica a great new friend from Leeds. My good friend Corin who is now my sister-in-law I love you all so much and just want to say thankyou.
Last but by no means least, thank you to my mum and dad for everything they have done for me. They are the epitome of unconditional love.
Anyway back to now…and the reason for this blog…..
When I was diagnosed it was all very clinical, we sat there in shock being told that the plan was that they thought I would have a mastectomy in 4 weeks after various other tests. We were shown pictures of reconstructions that she had completed, very bizarre when you have only just been told that you have cancer and then taken to the ‘quiet room’ by Claire my breast Cancer Nurse to explain anything that we didn’t understand. Hmmmm – all of it??! I came away with a folder, leaflets, list of appointments and a form for free prescriptions. I texted my manager to say that I needed the rest of the day off and we did the only sensible thing….headed to the pub!!
So from then I became Cancer Patient. I googled recommended sites – Macmillan, Breast Cancer Now, Cancer Research and lots of sites that I probably shouldn’t have. I wanted to know what was happening to my body, why I had got cancer and most importantly my chances of survival. What really stood out for me was Blogs, peoples own experience, telling it how it really is. I cried through the honesty of these, clung to the hope that these women had survived Breast Cancer and come out the other side maybe a different person but definitely stronger. I discovered You Me and the Big C Podcast, and could quickly quote them on every topic.
So during treatment I wrote lots of notes about my feelings in case they could help someone in the future. Someone like me…children like Olly and Millie, a husband like Mark, sister like Tracey or Gemma. Cancer effects everyone, not just the patient.
My grandma was the greatest influence in my life, and her words ‘Look for the positive in everything’ hit me at the same time, but how? How could there possibly be a positive side to a cancer diagnosis?
18 months later I am just starting to make sense of it all, so am hoping in writing this blog I may be able to help at least one person then its worth it.
So this is for anyone going through cancer as the patient, husband, wife, partner, carer, sister, brother, parent, friend, colleague, and everyone else…..lets do this!