Breast Cancer: Julie’s Story [video]

Video author: Streaming Well
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Video Transcript

Streaming Well

Julie's Story

I was 35 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It's quite unusual to find someone in their mid-30s that has got secondaries. I was just getting ready for a night out. I found a lump in my breast when I was just getting changed. I went to the doctor the next day. He referred me to the breast clinic up at the local hospital. I was seen within 2 weeks, and I was told it was cancer. I had the lump removed and was told I would be having chemo and a course of radiotherapy.

I noticed when I was walking, I got a real bad pain in my left hip, so when I returned for my first chemotherapy session, I mentioned the pain, got X-ray, and was basically told the cancer had actually spread further into my body.

My son was 6 when I was diagnosed. It kept me going at the time. I had to take him to school. Nobody else was going to do it so it didn't matter how poorly I was. He had to go to school. He had to be picked up from school. He has to be fed, otherwise you'd quite happily get back into bed. Pull the duvet over your head. Gordon and Chris have just got me. What will happen to them when I'm not there? I think about that all the time. If I'm not there to cook their dinner or just look after the place, stand between them in the arguments. So yeah, I'm really scared.

Julie has been on a number of treatments. I lost my hair, the second chemo made me very sick. Each treatments do have different side effects. I've been on many different treatments for my bones because obviously with the cancer in your bones, it does weaken them. So you need an extra boost just to keep you going. I've been on tablet based chemotherapy, Unfortunately, it didn't work for me and it made my cancer spread. The one I'm on now is just a straightforward push or injection. Again, the side effects have been really good apart from fatigue which is a major thing with any chemo. But it's not made me sick. It's made my hair go a little bit but not as bad a the first time. So, I can still look normal, so to speak. Quality of life is very important to Julie. When I was on the chemos that made me sick, I just couldn't leave the house. Just to get out for a bit of fresh air is amazing. Not being —-- not throwing up and even your hair—when you've lost your hair, and particularly when you are wearing your bandannas or your wig —-- people automatically think, "What's wrong with her? She is a sick person." I don't choose to look like a sick person.

Julie is a member of Basingstoke Operatic Society. I love it. I love dressing up and I love performing. You can be somebody different. It's great. Just a couple of hours a week that you can just switch off and do something totally different. Pretend to be somebody else and the cancer and your normal life. It's just gone. Just for a couple of hours. Julie is thankful for her husband's support. We met through a mutual friend at a seventeenth birthday party. So, we've been together ever since. He's been there for me through everything, real supportive and when it's been hard, i mean — I'd go to bed and I could hear him crying downstairs 'cause that's how he'd cope with it. He has always been a real support for me and kept me going. I wouldn't be here without him or Chris to be honest. I just wouldn't be here without them.

Julie's goals for the future. Our 20th is in 2016, so I'd like to go somewhere, even if it's the local church where we got married. Just to renew our vows. It helps to set goals, when it started it was Christopher going to senior school and to achieve that was wonderful. Now it's — he's got 3 more years left at the school, hopefully college, university. I want to see all that. I really do.

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