Cancer Changed My Whole Perspective On Life
My name is Talat Shams and In 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My GP referred me to hospital for tests. After a week of waiting for the results, my worst fears were confirmed. There are different types of breast cancers and I had been diagnosed with Triple Negative, Grade 3. This all came as a huge shock; I just couldn’t understand how I could become unwell. After all, I was only in my mid-30s and relatively young, and I had always led a healthy and active lifestyle.
I had two very young boys at the time. We decided to tell my boys who were 6 and 11 at the time but I was too upset and shocked, so my husband spoke to them. We gave a bit more information to my eldest and also asked him to read the book called “Mummy’s Lump” that was given to me from the hospital which we sat together, and he read. We used simple language with the little one, both my boys were particularly worried about me losing my hair! We decided to answer their questions as honestly as we could which wasn’t easy given that I myself was having to come to terms with the diagnosis.
I had to undergo an operation (lumpectomy) followed by 6 months of chemotherapy and just under a month of radiotherapy. The treatment for cancer was tough mentally as well as physically. I feared that it would re-occur, and I wouldn’t see my boys grow up. I had also very recently prior to the diagnosis suffered a bereavement and was coming to grips with that. I am cancer free for seven years now.
I accessed some support from a mainstream charity whilst going through treatment and that really helped, this was a form of a befriending service. I found that speaking to someone who had a similar diagnosis and treatment, and who had felt all the things I was feeling, was absolutely invaluable. It was a scary time in my life as not only was I having to deal with the gruelling effects of treatment and managing those, but I was also had fears of re-occurrence. My befriending support volunteer was able to guide and support me, answering my questions in a way that others couldn’t!
Since then, I have gone on to become a befriending volunteer for the same charity because I know first-hand what a massive difference accessing that support made in my life.
What I Learnt
One thing I would say that Cancer has changed my perspective towards life, little things don’t bother me as much as they used to. I try to live in the present moment most of the time. I have tried new things since the diagnosis for example I took up running four years ago and have done few half marathons. I also went mount climbing which was challenging but fun!
My Advice to Others
Cancer doesn’t see age, colour or background, it can strike anyone at any time. If something doesn’t feel right, please go to your doctor and get it checked out straight away. Please also seek out the support, don’t struggle on your own. Speak to someone who understands, I did, and it made a massive difference in my journey with cancer. No one should face cancer alone, the befriending service was a life saver for me at one of the difficult periods in my life.