Since I left Breakthrough I have tended to blog less about breast cancer, recognising that some of my need to recover is to be less immersed in it. It’s also shaped by my desire to assert myself as not just being about breast cancer-that it doesn't define me. I know that at some levels this has helped me but of course it's still a big part of who I am now-good and ill.
So when I heard that a friend’s second sister was diagnosed with breast cancer I recognised the impact on me was not insignificant. She is someone I have never met but she has joined our sisterhood, and I know that part of me grieves for everyone who joins. Part of me senses their pain and distress, however positive the implications are from the diagnosis. Part of me recognises the insistent cries of I'm fine in the face of evidence to the contrary. Part of me anticipates the ups and downs of the journey they have ahead and wishes it could be otherwise.
It's estimated that there is one woman diagnosed with breast cancer every 11 minutes in the UK. For every person diagnosed there is an impact on so many others- family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours. Their diagnoses triggering many different and similar reactions in those around them. Fear of loss, what does this mean for me, what can I do to make a difference. It's why every pink framed event from Moonwalks, to Race for Life to Big Pink Bake-offs and the like has fresh audiences year on year, because another group of people have seen the impact of a breast cancer diagnosis and want to change the future. Because although we recognise its a common illness now, that does not mean its common for those individuals. Their lives are changed for ever, often in very devastating ways. The Scar Project has a mission of raising awareness of breast cancer in young women in particular. The images are incredibly powerful and tell eloquently of both impact and survival.
A second diagnosis in any family of course has a ripple effect at any age. Depending on the persons age this has, however, different implications. I recommend Breakthrough breast cancers Family History Guidelines to help you know what to do and expect from your health service should you have a family history.They also have BestTreatment Guidelines for across the UK which has hugely valuable information about what you need to know and lets people affected know their rights around care and treatment. From my experience good information is crucial, beware of google but do link with others with the lived experience. It’s a different kind of expertise, it’s a sisterhood ( in the main) with empathy at its core. The love and support I see within this community is outstanding. “...deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.” - Carl Rogers
Reasons to be heartful
For every person who disappears when cancer or other hardships knock on the door, in my experience there are others who emerge-often from such unexpected places-you just need to remain open for them to help......
And for me here in Edinburgh its been a lovely sunny July here so far and we have friends to share it with this weekend. Can’t wait…..