‘Thank you, cancer!’

Best - - BEST FOR REAL LIFE -

Rachel Slade, 31, from Lich­field, got out of a rut and into a whole lot of ad­ven­tures

Be­fore I had cancer, I pre­sumed to­mor­row was a given. I’d go to work, come home, have din­ner with my part­ner, Gavin, now 41, then watch TV un­til bed­time.

Af­ter feel­ing a shoot­ing pain in my left breast in Jan­uary 2016, I was di­ag­nosed with in­flam­ma­tory breast cancer, a rare and ag­gres­sive type. It had al­ready spread to my lymph nodes.

An in­tense course of chemo be­gan, fol­lowed by a mas­tec­tomy and full lymph node clear­ance.

When I was di­ag­nosed, I still hadn’t worn some Christ­mas socks I’d been given two months pre­vi­ously. I’d de­cided to save them for the fol­low­ing fes­tive sea­son, but now I had cancer, I put them straight on. A lit­tle mo­ment, but a big les­son.

Dur­ing treat­ment, I couldn’t make any plans. Even when Gavin pro­posed, I strug­gled to set a date be­cause my life was no longer cer­tain.

But when all the cancer cells were erad­i­cated, I could fo­cus on my fu­ture. Hot air bal­loon rides, bak­ing bread, grow­ing my own veg… I made a scrap­book where I added pho­tos of my lat­est ad­ven­tures.

I went to see Scot­land’s beau­ti­ful lochs, adopted a cat, threw a vin­tage party and got a tat­too. I went to Harry Pot­ter’s Plat­form 9 ¾ , some­where I’d never quite got round to visit­ing be­fore. On the front cover of my scrap­book is the mantra, ‘Life is like rid­ing a bi­cy­cle. To keep your bal­ance, you must be mov­ing for­ward.’ Gavin jokes that we could watch TV now and then, but I don’t want to. Not when I could be training for a 10k run or prac­tis­ing my Ital­ian for a trip I’m tak­ing to Venice with my mum, Ann, 65. Or plan­ning our wed­ding, which is in Novem­ber. I thank cancer for the valu­able lessons it taught me. To­mor­row is never cer­tain, but I can make sure to­day is bril­liant.

Rachel has made a bucket list of the things she wants to do

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