Heading into summer 2005, I had my 33rd birthday celebrations to plan, a hectic social life and a busy job a few hours away from home.
Things were starting to get more and more difficult for me though. I just didn't feel right. I was putting on weight, had dreadful hot flushes all the time and was more emotional than I had ever been! It was crazy and I was uncomfortable.
It was then that I made the discovery of the lump in my left breast, while I was in the shower.
I hurried to see my GP, who assured me all would be fine. However, she telephoned me when she received my blood test back with the news that I was going into early menopause!
Shocked at this news, I went through the motions of booking appointments to see fertility specialists and a consultant to talk me through the next stages of menopause at 32. It was all a bit of a blur.
THEN I got another call from my GP a few days later, it was a Friday. She apologised profusely, as she had previously misread my blood results. I wasn't going through early menopause, but I more than likely had breast cancer!! Well if I thought I was shocked before; I certainly was now!!
By Tuesday I had seen a consultant and by the following Friday, I was having my first chemotherapy session.
What a whirlwind of hospitals, consultants, different treatments and a whole host of mixed emotions. More that anything though, I was angry. So, so angry that this was happening to me. Angry with anyone who popped in on me with another bunch of flowers, especially if they hadn't been in touch previously for a long time. I felt like I was an exhibit at my own funeral, everyone was curious, and everyone wanted to say they'd been to see me. I was horrible to many of them though, embarrasingly so!
Looking back on this now, having friends with similar illnesses since, I totally get where they were all coming from. A place of fear, regret, guilt and helplessness.
I feel so lucky to still be here, lucky enough to have gone on to have my beautiful daughter. It did take 7 sessions of IVF though and I'm now dealing with a 4-year-old terror while I'm nearly 50, but I wouldn't change things for the world.
I strongly believe that things happen to us in life for a reason. Each experience makes us stronger and equips us with the tools to carry on through life.
I would never have thought I would have been strong enough to get through the gruelling chemotherapy, radiotherapy and Hercerptin over that 2 year period.
Who would have believed I would have been emotionally strong enough to cope with 7 IVF cycles, breaking my ankle and miscarrying number 6, after so many failed cycles. But I was, and I still am strong enough to deal with anything that life throws at me.
In celebration of this, I wanted to give something back to those ladies who are going through their own journey. During my treatment I lost my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my finger and toenails. I had no idea there were ways I could still look like my old self though and so I now want to make sure people are aware.
So, after 25 years in financial services, I retrained in aesthetics and Microblading & More was born. I now offer a range of treatments to enhance what you already have or compensate for what you have lost as a result of treatment.
My favorite treatment though has to be 3D areola tattooing. What better way to finish off a couple of years of treatment and surgery, than with new nipples. Many ladies aren't aware this treatment even exist outside of the hospital, so I will make it my mission to spread the word.
I think after a cancer diagnosis you lose yourself a bit. You feel guilty for putting your friends and family through this with you and for them having to help you out. The last thing you therefore want to consider is more time out to have new eyebrows or nipples even.
However, we need to make it clear that ‘it's not vanity, it's normality'!
Contact and connect with Fiona
What strength and grit Fiona has shown during those terribly harrowing times in her life. She is a true example of how we all, can come through those dark times stronger and ultimately better people.
I, thank her for sharing her story because as we share our stories we help and encourage those that are travelling a similar path.
I am lucky enough to have been able to share part of my story in the book ‘The Girls Who Refuse To Quit'. So as a way of giving back for this wonderful opportunity, I would like to give you the opportunity to share your story, here on my blog.
So, if you have a story that needs to be told and would benefit others, please do get in contact.
“Your heartache is someone else's hope. If you make it through, somebody else is going to make it through. Tell your story.” Kim McManus