‘Breast cancer affected me more than I thought it would’

When Hazel, 49, found a lump in her breast last year she couldn’t believe it would turn out to be breast cancer as there was no history of the disease in her family.

“At that time you’re saying there’s not anything wrong, it’s going to be fine,” she says.

However, after undergoing a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy, the diagnosis was confirmed and she had to start on a treatment plan which included surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, Herceptin and hormone tablets.

Her chemotherapy treatments had to be postponed twice after she had a bad reaction to the drugs and as well as suffering hair loss, sickness and fatigue, she lost some of her nails, had mouth ulcers, problems with her vision and noticed a change in her sense of taste.

“It affected me more than I thought it would, physically as well as mentally,” she says. “It’s just been one long journey and had I known everything at the start I would have been reluctant to go through it.

“Through it all the Macmillan nurses have been at the end of the phone line. I have also had support from my family to get me to and from hospital.

“Most of the services you don’t know anything about until you’re in this position and you don’t know until you’re told. You just assume you have got to deal with it. You have got to get yourself to hospital, pay bills and feed the family.”

Hazel still has to undergo reconstructive surgery and has decided she would like to have the second breast removed as a precaution.

“I really don’t want to go through the last year again,” she says. “If I’m going through surgery anyway I would rather they removed the other one and do a reconstruction at the same time. We have still got lots to go through but the worst of it is over.”

Hazel has also had a lot of support from family and friends.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like if I was living on my own,” she said. “On days I was feeling down I had people to talk to. Not everyone has people around them.”

Hazel’s daughter Holly decided she wanted to give something back to Macmillan after seeing the support they gave to her mum.

She sold arm bands for the charity and did a four-hour Dancethon with her two best friends Mhairi and Eryn at the Tarbrax Christmas Fair in November last year. The girls also danced at their school Christmas Fair and made a presentation at their school assembly to tell everyone why they were supporting Macmillan. They raised £1500.

“That was her way of coping with it,” says Hazel. “She wanted to give something back. There wasn’t much she could do for me although she is always there looking after me. She comes in at night and will check if any hair is growing back and give my hair a rub. She will do her nails when I’m doing mine.

“She’s watched through all the stages. She seems to be coping with it very well because she knows the reason I have gone through this is to make sure the cancer is away completely.”

“They were always dropping in to keep my spirits up, but especially my sister Mandy who, when I decided to shave my hair in August as it was falling out, brought a friend of hers to my house to do it so that I didn’t need to go out – and had her hair shaved first so that I didn’t need to go through it alone.”

Last month Hazel also took part in Race For Life’s Pretty Muddy and she helped out her mum and sister Mandy at a Big Macmillan Coffee Morning with sale tables, tombola, raffles and much more.

Her sister is also running a Christmas Fair again this year in aid of Macmillan.