Shop Pink for Breast Cancer
To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Anne BoyleBo shares her touching story...
First diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, the mum-of-one from Lanarkshire had a mastectomy and re-constructive surgery. But, two years ago, she was told she had secondary cancer, which had spread to her lungs, liver, spine and abdomen – and this time, it was incurable. Despite this, HR manager Anne, who works for Europe at Granite Services, has dealt with cancer head on and continued to work during her latest round of chemotherapy, surprising her colleagues. It’s her positive approach to her illness, and life, that gets her through the tough times. Anne told us: “Life is for living, and that’s exactly what I plan to do”.
“When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t do any regular self-checks – there was no history of breast cancer in my family, so I didn’t appreciate the importance of doing such checks. I found a lump by accident, as I was getting ready for bed I brushed my hand against my breast and felt a lump. It was one of those heartstopping moments when you think ‘surely not, that can’t be a lump’. As it was the weekend, I thought I’d wait till the Monday before phoning the doctor for an appointment. But, at the same time, I was hoping that I had made a mistake and the lump would disappear. But fortunately, I didn’t ignore it and 10 days later I was getting checked at my local hospital – it was all very quick. During the initial checks, the consultant could feel a lump but it didn’t show up on the mammogram. There was definitely something there, which is why he took the biopsy. He indicated that he didn’t think it was going to be anything sinister so I put it out of my head. A phone call from the hospital confirmed my diagnosis, but I was very fortunate first time around as, I was able to get my life back on track within four weeks after a single mastectomy and being put on tamoxifen. I never thought it would re-emerge again. Physically dealing with a cancer re-diagnosis is one thing, but the hardest bit is definitely the psychological impact it has. I was told my cancer had spread and that it was incurable, that I now had a “life limiting illness” but I couldn’t let that take over my life. Yes, it’s difficult to get your head into a space where you can accept that diagnosis. And, as a mother, I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be there to see my daughter graduate from university or get married or that I would not see grandchildren, but you can’t let those thoughts overtake your life. Life is for living and that’s what I plan to do. I want people to learn from my naivety in understanding that you shouldn’t ignore warning signs and that you can go into remission, live a very normal life, but that it can also come back into your life. Breast Cancer Care has been great – they’ve put me in touch with other women with secondary cancer and you cannot underestimate the power of positivity in reaching out to people who know exactly what you are going through to give you guidance, support and encouragement. To women in the early stages of their cancer journey, I would say: don’t ever give up hope or positivity, because a positive approach, a great support network and a smile on your face helps you get though the dark days. Yes, it’s tough and there will be days when you feel that life’s not fair, but the good days are around the corner and, for me, this has been a huge learning experience. I have met hugely inspirational people and been involved in things that I would never have done – like walking down a catwalk in the Breast Cancer Care Scotland Fashion Show last year and taking part in lots of charity runs including a marathon!”
Anne (4th from left) with her friends at the Moonwalk