Living with Advanced Breast Cancer: Sarah’s Story [video]

Video author: Streaming Well
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Video Transcript

Streaming Well

Sarah: I knew nothing really about breast cancer before my diagnosis--
and what it really meant. I was first diagnosed in May 2010. I had gone to my GP because I had been on a diet and was really fit. But one breast wasn't shrinking like the other one, and I thought, "That's a bit strange." So I went to the GP, and he sent me to the Breast Clinic. They diagnosed me with cancer there and then and sent me for a whole load of tests like CT scans, bone scans. When I saw my consultant a fortnight later, it had spread to my bones already. I just felt devastated. We had just celebrated 25 years of marriage. Everything was fine. My career was brilliant, and then suddenly--curveball.

Sarah's first home treatment was unsuccessful. She began a series of chemotherapy treatments. It did shrink things. Then he put me on another chemo to try and shrink it further. But it didn't really. It sort of held it. One of the chemos was dreadful where basically 2 weeks out of 3 I was not well at all--very, very tired, nauseaous--and also coupled with that I'd become anemic. Further treatments followed...I had my mastectomy. Then radiotherapy, which was hideous. People tend to think radiotherapy--easy, peasy. Going to your machine, and you get zapped with rays and everything's fine. Yes, it was for the first week. Then my skin started to get pink. And it just--my skin just broke down.

Sarah accesses her current treatment through the Cancer Drugs Fund. It's given me some more life frankly. It's the ability to get up in the morning, have a shower, be normal, go out, do stuff, come home, and do it all again the next day. Without the drug, I don't think I'd be doing that. Coping with cancer has been a difficult journey for Sarah and her family. I'm well supported. My family have been fantastic. My husband has been to every single appointment with me--everyone. We do a lot of ostrich work--you know--sticking our head in the sand and living with it--not ignoring it. It's just part of me. I'm not cancer. I'm still me.

Sarah's hopes for the future. I don't want to climb Kilamanjaro--there are no shops. I don't want to sail down the abseil down The Shard. I just want to be here. But what I do hope for all women is that they get access to a secondary breast care nurse. Every woman should be entitled to have someone to talk to. My secondary nurse asks the questions I probably forget to ask my consultant and its invaluable. Coping with cancer means being able to do the things Sarah enjoys. Knitting for me--you can't think of anything else while you're doing it. You have to be in the moment. You have to be concentrating on what you're doing and I don't like imperfection. So there's many a time with chemo brain I've had to unpick several rows because I've misread the pattern I've made. Yes. I can spend hours and hours just knitting away and the time goes very, very quickly. This is something physical here that's going to stay. I think possibly what I'm doing is knitting memories.

Sarah has a special date in her calendar. The marker I've got at the moment is May. I'm going to see 2 shows--2 gigs--at the NEC. One is "Journey" and "Whitesnake'" Yes. The other one is "Rush." I saw them 2 years ago and they were awesome! The light show in "Rush"--you've got to stick around and see that.

Streaming Well