Secondary breast cancer: Awareness works

Ismena Clout
kyle getty 300x225 Secondary breast cancer: Awareness works

Jeremy Kyle who has recovered from testicular cancer (Getty Images)

I hear from people that they are sick of reading about cancer in the papers and surely everyone knows everything about cancer by now? Then a story comes along that makes you realise you can never say there isn’t enough publicity.

Jeremy Kyle was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the end of 2012, he has now finished his treatment and has been given the thumbs up. He’s a very lucky man and it could have been so different. He initially cancelled his doctor’s appointment as he was too busy. But after reading an article in a national newspaper about testicular cancer he realised he had to go to the doctors, and by the end of the day he had been given the sad news that he did have cancer.

I can’t help but relate to that story; in the path to my secondary diagnosis I kept prioritising work over doctor’s appointments, squeezing them into after work slots that were days away. It’s easy to look back and berate myself with that saying ‘what if’. But I did get diagnosed and was very successfully treated that time. The main lesson I’ve learnt is not to wait when these things happen, now as soon as there is change I let my medical team know even if it’s just to stop me worrying!

The other aspect of Jeremy’s story that affected me was that I can’t help but feel a little bit jealous of him. Jealous that he is doing so well, jealous that he has only had one operation and a short chemotherapy cycle. I don’t wish Jeremy any harm, I’m really pleased for him and I absolutely hope that he stays healthy for a very, very long time. I just can’t help my feelings of jealousy.

It is a funny world to be in when you are comparing your cancer journey with those around you. You shouldn’t as no two paths are the same and it really affects us all in different ways but it’s so hard not to. There is the first level of comparison as to what primary organ was ill first. Then the next level of what stage it was diagnosed at. Then you compare your treatments and what chemotherapy drug was worse. Then you ask about any metastases (when it’s spread to other organs) which organs (as some are worse than others). Then how many different organs and finally how long you have been ill for.

In life, we naturally rank ourselves against another person – who of us is better-looking, richer or thinner. But it’s very odd to do it about our cancer diagnosis. It’s like a game of cancer top trumps – who has the worst collection of cards. But really I’m looking for someone whose story I can use for hope, someone who has had a very long remission, someone who had a good response to a drug, someone I can use as an inspiration for my story.

There is so much I miss about my old life, so much I wish I could change and sometimes it can all be a bit much. I think overall I’m a better person now than I was before my secondary diagnosis. I had counselling last year and found peace with my past and will be doing more this year to help on this journey. It’s funny that it has taken this crisis in my life to do something I could have done anytime! I guess like cancelling or delaying doctor’s appointments, we always think it’s nothing and assume everything will right itself on its own in time. I have found more happiness in the last year, more balance and more peace… there is just one more thing I wish for and I’ll tell you all in my next blog…

For more information on secondary breast cancer, visit

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  • g0annahead

    Every week it seems that another cancer cure is broadcast across FB.
    More recently flagellating editorials such as “The cancer industry’s war on cancer cures” & “The Latest Lie From The Cancer Industry” indicate the devil is working against our health.

  • Facing Cancer

    A very good post. It’s so important to follow up on our hunches, no? In my case it was because of awareness campaigns that I took my lump seriously when discovered. And like you, I like to hear about the inspirational stories. Yeah, I know it’s not always rainbows – but it’s very nice to hear that normal is possible, and people do go on as best they can.

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