It’s that time of year again when we think ‘Pink’. This is a fantastic campaign to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. This is a topic very close to my heart after spending the last few years watching my best friend go through cancer twice. I think I was a little naive when it came to knowing what a diagnosis of breast cancer really meant until I saw Louise go through it firsthand.
It was just before Christmas in 2013 when Louise walked through my front door after a hospital appointment and told me that the tests had come back positive. She was 33 and had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. In the 20 years of friendship never have I seen her look so broken. I was devastated. Thoughts were going round in my head about what the diagnosis really meant? What would the treatment involve? How ill was it going to make her? What would I need to do to support her? What if I said the wrong thing to her? How was she going to tell her 3 year old daughter?
From the day she was diagnosed I stood by her every step of the way. She endured numerous operations, intense chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery; endless hospital appointments, the side effect of treatment, the list was just endless.
It was heartbreaking watching her go through all this but I had to stay strong for her. Louise was such an inspiration. She coped with every bit of indignity, she remained positive and tried to keep life as normal as possible for her daughter and family.
Finally it was all over. She could finally start living a normal life again until 6 months later and the cancer had returned. Everything came crashing back down and treatment had to start all over again. This meant more intense chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an operation to remove her ovaries. On top of all this Louise also found out that she had the BRCA1 gene which increased her risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer in the future. Despite everything she stayed focus on getting through treatment again and never gave up. Louise is now cancer free and enjoying life. She is a true inspiration.
I have learnt so many things about breast cancer these last few years, things I didn’t even know. Until you know someone who has been through it I don’t think you can fully appreciate how much it changes you and your body forever. Weight gain, hair loss, mastectomies, lymphoedema, plus the psychological effect and fear and anxiety you have about the cancer returning; are to name but a few of the permanent after effects of treatment.
This is why it is so important we all continue to campaign to raise awareness and raise money to fund much needed research into such an awful life disease.
I know Louise had a fantastic support network throughout the whole journey, especially from the Lymphoedema team at Ashgate Hospicecare who gave her advice on ways to reduce the swelling in her hand and arm and also to The Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline.
Ashgate Hospice provides specialist care, support and advice to people going through cancer and other illnesses. What they do is truly amazing. Spencers Solicitors has agreed to take part in the “Sponsor a Nurse” for the hospice and to show our support we are holding a coffee morning on Friday 18th November at our office in Chesterfield.
Last week we held a McMillan Coffee Morning and invited family, friends and local businesses to come and join us for coffee and cake. The event was a huge success and raised a total £536.00.
We must not forget that this week is ‘Hospice Care Week’ across the whole country and the purpose of this is to highlight the work the hospices do and help people really understand what hospice care is all about.
Here at Spencers we aim to continue supporting cancer charities as it something close to our hearts.
About the author
Laura Reaney is a litigator within Spencers Solicitors Complex Injury team. Laura has extensive experience in dealing with claimants that have complex and serious injuries, and over the years has worked on various cases including those involving back and spinal injuries.
Laura's last blog was Sniffing out a Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury - Two Years On.