Bronwen and Rachael are best friends who were both diagnosed with breast cancer within the same year. They are passionate about fundraising for Breast Cancer Now and took part in this year’s wear it pink photo shoot along-side their friends Sophie and Angie-May to show you what they will be doing this wear it pink day, now they would like to tell you why.
Rachael was diagnosed at 41 with grade 2 multi focal invasive lobular cancer in August 2012 and underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In September 2014 Rachael had a prophylactic mastectomy with double reconstructive surgery.
Bronwen was diagnosed at 40 with grade 2 invasive ductal cancer and extensive high grade DCSIS in July 2013. She had a mastectomy with immediate reconstructive surgery, chemotherapy and Herceptin.
Both are now on a 10 year course of hormone therapy.
Bronwen: ‘When Rachael was diagnosed with breast cancer I was devastated. I remember thinking that it couldn’t be possible as people our age just didn’t get breast cancer. I know now I was wrong. Rachael was such an inspiration to me throughout her treatment. She bore every indignity and side effect with such grace and stoicism that even though I went with her to treatment I had no idea how tough it really is, until I went through it myself. Rachael kept life as normal as possible for her kids and her family and has come out the other side braver and stronger than before.’
Rachael: ‘I initially felt very angry about my breast cancer diagnosis as I had been checking myself regularly as my mum already had two separate breast cancer diagnoses. There are not usually any easily detectible lumps with lobular breast cancer and because of my age the doctors were reluctant to send me for a mammogram. When I found out I had breast cancer I was floored. Bronwen was such a wonderful friend throughout my treatment and provided me with valuable support and help.
Having just about breathed a huge sigh of relief that my ordeal was over, it was so distressing to hear that Bronwen had found a lump. Once you have had breast cancer, you always encourage your friends to continually check themselves, but your greatest fear is that they will actually get it!
Bronwen coped amazingly well with her chemotherapy. Despite having come with me for my treatments and having an inclination about what her treatment would be like, I knew that sometimes when you say “I’m fine” it often means “I’m not fine at all”.
Having HER2 meant that she had to have a further year of treatment with Herceptin, which she was unusually highly allergic to. Although given the option to stop, Bronwen chose to complete all 18 treatments, which was incredible. She even managed to carry on with the work she was doing and had to be told to stop committing herself to more.
Good friends share many things and whilst I really wish Bronwen hadn’t shared having breast cancer with me, it has been a great help to be able to share how the experience really is. We can even laugh about the silly things – our cold cap and bizarre wig shop experiences.’
Bronwen and Rachael: Cancer changes you physically (weight gain; bloating; hair loss; mastectomies) but also mentally and the worry about it coming back. Although as time goes by these worries lessen, which is why we found it immensely re-assuring to visit the Breast Cancer Now Research Centre and talk to scientists who spend their working lives trying to eradicate the disease.
We became involved with the charity during our treatment as we really wanted to do something positive. We started our annual bake off and we hope to raise even more money this year for wear it pink.
We hope that we have beaten breast cancer and seen the back of it but until Breast Cancer Now achieve their goal of ensuring that no more women die of breast cancer we will continue to campaign to raise awareness and raise money to fund their much needed research.
We urge you to do the same.
Bronwen and Rachael