I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer (also known as metastatic, stage 4 or advanced breast cancer) in the summer of 2022. I found a lump in my breast but unfortunately, after many, many tests and scans, we discovered it had already spread to my bones. In the secondary breast cancer world (yes, we have our own world!) this is called a “de novo” diagnosis: “from the beginning.” I have always enjoyed writing and decided that I would start a blog.
From the outset, I knew that although I wanted to write about my diagnosis, I wanted to document the reality of living with cancer whilst attempting to be a wife and mother to three boys. Being a mum to three boys provides enough content for a blog on its own - my boys are absolutely feral very lively and I honestly don’t have a lot of time to sit around and dwell about how rubbish it is to be diagnosed with cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I have down days where I just want to scream and throw things but generally I am just getting on with living the best life that I can.
When I was told that there was a chance that my primary cancer might have spread, it felt as though my entire world was on the verge of imploding. A stage 4 diagnosis was a dark place that I just couldn’t let my mind go to and initially I just refused to think it was a possibility. However, I soon realised that despite being in this terrifying no-man’s land, I needed to arm myself with as much knowledge as I possibly could.
The secondary breast cancer world is an incredibly supportive place, however I couldn’t access a lot of the information or support from Facebook groups until I received my diagnosis. At the time I found this incredibly frustrating and didn’t understand why I couldn’t join a Facebook group for people with secondary breast cancer. I wanted to read people’s stories and ask for advice. Now, I completely understand why these groups are so strict - they are a safe space for people whose worlds have actually imploded and for me to have looked for support there whilst still full of hope would have been insensitive at best and selfish at worst. So, I carried on searching and I stumbled across a Facebook page of a lady, fairly local to me, where she documents her experience (it’s not a journey, I can’t explain how much I hate the use of the word “journey” when it comes to secondary breast cancer as there is only one possible destination and it’s a pretty crap one) of living with secondary breast cancer . I also read a book called “Glittering a Turd” which is written by an amazing lady who was diagnosed de novo. Both of these ladies were living their lives, very different lives but the one thing that they both had in common was that they were living with cancer and not dying from it. I felt as though I could breathe and that a diagnosis, whilst dreadful, would not be the end.
Whilst I decided to write my blog for myself, as a means of being able to write down my feelings (because screaming and throwing things appears to be socially unacceptable), I love the thought of perhaps being able to give hope to someone. That period of being diagnosed (or waiting for diagnosis) is a purgatory of sorts and if just one person stumbles across my story and it helps them process the whirlwind of emotions and cold-dread then that would be wonderful. In an attempt to make my site a useful resource, I have signposted the charities and resources (such as Make 2nds Count) that help and support me the most. To the outside world, it may appear that my children are being raised by wolves but they are living in a house full of love (ok, and chaos) and so far I feel as though I’m muddling through succeeding at being a mum living with secondary breast cancer: a “Secondary Mum.”
I try to ensure that my blog is filled with exceptionally high-quality, often scientific, but always accurate images. Below is an example of this: Mr B (my husband), the three boys and myself.