Essex

Breast cancer: 'Nothing prepares you for that fear'

Beverley Nash Image copyright Beverley Nash
Image caption Beverley Nash said she cut off her own hair before losing it during breast cancer treatment

A breast cancer patient has spoken of the "emotional freefall" of her diagnosis as she prepares to take part in a charity fashion show.

Beverley Nash, 55, of Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, completed treatment in March 2016 but said "fear of recurrence never leaves you, it just becomes less raw".

She added: "Nothing prepares you for that fear; it's terrifying."

She will join 31 other survivors and patients in The Show in aid of Breast Cancer Care.

Mrs Nash said she first noticed a "puckering" on her left breast in June 2015.

Her GP discovered a lump and she was diagnosed with breast cancer the following month.

Image copyright Beverley Nash
Image caption Mrs Nash completed her cancer treatment in March 2016 and still takes medication

"I thought 'I'm 50 and I'm going to die'," she said.

"Describing it as a rollercoaster implies there are ups; there are no ups at this time. it takes a while to find your footing with the situation - but you do.

"Mine is a common reaction. The hugest of rugs was pulled from under my feet."

She describes the weeks after diagnosis as "the darkest of times" and "like hanging off an out-of-control speedboat".

Mrs Nash had a lumpectomy on 19 August 2015, the day after her 51st birthday. Six rounds of chemotherapy followed.

She has spent the last three years in "the final stage of treatment", taking Tamoxifen, and "getting my life back together".

Image copyright Beverley Nash
Image caption Mrs Nash pictured "feeling on top of the world" 18 months after her treatment

Sarah Hemsted, of Breast Cancer Care, said The Show proved patients could "still look and feel amazing after a life-changing experience".

She said: "We find people often struggle with body confidence after surgery and through their treatment, whether it's a mastectomy or reconstruction, or hair loss and body changes."

Mrs Nash said her friends and family were "instrumental and walked every step" with her towards her recovery.

She created a board of notes, poems and photos of her loved ones on her dressing table, allowing her to "wake up to a shot of positivity".

Image copyright BREAST CANCER CARE
Image caption The Show by Breast Cancer Care has been running for more than 20 years

"I have more empathy now and know how precious life is," she said.

The Show takes place at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza hotel on Thursday, 3 October.

Image copyright Science Photo Library

Breast Cancer: The Facts

  • One in seven women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime
  • More than 99% of new cases are women, with more than 80% occurring in women over 50
  • More than half (53%) of patients struggled with anxiety at the end of treatment and almost a third (31%) with depression
  • Almost nine in 10 women survive breast cancer for five years or more

Source: Breast Cancer Care (free helpline 0808 800 6000)

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