It was all such agony

Would I ever be the woman I was be­fore?

Chat - - Contents -

My life had just been get­ting started, but now..?

Allyson Lynch, 31

Pout­ing, I struck a dra­matic pose in front of the mir­ror.

Just like the mag­a­zine mod­els I ad­mired so much. I was just a kid, but I loved their flam­boy­ant clothes, their con­fi­dence.

It’d be amaz­ing to make money be­ing snapped for a mag, I thought dream­ily.

By 2011, I was 24 and work­ing as a hair stylist – but I still had model am­bi­tions.

And, as it hap­pened, a lo­cal char­ity shop needed peo­ple for a char­ity cal­en­dar.

‘I could do it!’ I beamed to my mum Karen, then 58.

‘Go for it!’ she laughed.

She re­mem­bered me pos­ing in the mir­ror as a girl.

Now, smil­ing for the cam­era with hair and make-up done, I felt a mil­lion dol­lars.

Three years later, a friend asked me to model for al­ter­na­tive cloth­ing brand Sour­puss. With my ev­er­chang­ing rain­bow-coloured hair and tat­toos, I fit­ted the spec per­fectly. I’ll be a cat­a­logue model. My dream come true! Work­ing for Sour­puss was

as fun as I thought it would be.

It fit­ted around my hair­styl­ist job, too. I’d never been hap­pier. Un­til one night in April 2014, when I placed my hand on my left breast while in bed. Un­der the skin, I felt a lump.

And I just knew. I had can­cer.

Both Mum and my grand­fa­ther, Wil­liam, car­ried a mu­ta­tion of the BRCA1 gene.

Mum had sur­vived breast can­cer, my grand­fa­ther, prostate can­cer. But while it wasn’t a shock, I’d not ex­pected to have it as young as 26.

I was re­ferred for an ul­tra­sound and biopsy.

Days later the spe­cial­ist phoned, con­firm­ing what I al­ready knew. I had stage-1 breast can­cer.

‘I can’t be­lieve it,’ Mum sobbed.

She’d been 42 when she’d beaten can­cer.

I was so much younger. It felt des­per­ately un­fair.

Still, with Mum’s sup­port and ex­pe­ri­ence, I knew she’d carry me through.

That May, I made the big­gest de­ci­sion of my life. A dou­ble mas­tec­tomy. Doc­tors had of­fered me an al­ter­na­tive – a lumpec­tomy fol­lowed by ra­dio­ther­apy.

But it would mean there was a risk of the can­cer re­turn­ing.

I knew the fear of that would tor­ment me ev­ery sin­gle day.

So I opted to have both my boobs re­moved.

Af­ter the op, I could barely look at my­self in the mir­ror, my chest rav­aged with scars.

Can­cer had robbed me of my fem­i­nin­ity – and my jour­ney with can­cer wasn’t over yet.

Dur­ing the next five months, I en­dured 16 rounds of chemo­ther­apy. It was re­lent­less and crip­plingly painful.

Ev­ery­thing I touched felt like ra­zor blades, the soft­est blan­ket felt like rocks. Soon, my hair was fall­ing out. When I de­cided to shave it all off, friends and fam­ily sat be­side me, shear­ing away their own locks, too. Amaz­ing sup­port. Yet look­ing in the mir­ror, all I saw was the can­cer, my body a war zone. No longer model ma­te­rial.

There were days I couldn’t even get up in the morn­ing.

My life had just been get­ting started, and now..?

No hair, no breasts, in ag­o­nis­ing pain, bedrid­den and with no choice but to move back in with Mum. I was half the woman I once was...

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