How I found Hope, Strength and Unity – Fran’s story

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One year after finishing her breast cancer treatment, Fran looks back at her breast cancer journey and how she has found hope, strength and unity through her recovery.

Hope from writing and smiling more

This time last year my hair had fallen out because of my chemotherapy treatment. I looked at myself in the mirror one morning and thought, ‘I look awful’.

I smiled back, and suddenly looked so much nicer. Hiding beneath the pale, red-eyed, bald image I saw ‘me’ again, and instantly felt a little better.

From then on, I smiled lots. Occasionally putting on some lovely lipstick and a quick smudge of pink on my cheeks helped too. People would tell me I looked well, and there’s nothing like that to help you feel better.

I have always tried to be positive and hopeful in my outlook, but sometimes this was a bit of a challenge when going through treatment. At the end of every day, before my attempts to sleep, I went through everything I had achieved.

I wrote a dairy and listed how far I had walked, recorded my steps and wrote about how I felt. This way I could go to sleep in a hopeful frame of mind and sometimes even feeling a little bit proud of where I was and how far I had come.

Strength from starting to walk again

Before I started my treatment, I listed places I would like to visit that were nearby and that I could have a gentle walk around. The National Trust houses and gardens nearby proved to be interesting and fun and provided a useful distraction on days when I might potentially feel low.

I was prepared to feel tired, exhausted even, and it did happen. I had read that walking would be good for increasing my energy levels and for boosting my immunity, so I started walking every day. Some days I did not feel at all like going out, but I would make myself take at least a few steps.

The countryside around me is so beautiful that it made me happy to be there, outside and away from thoughts about treatment. Sometimes I would feel rubbish and say to my husband, ‘I don’t think I can go that far today.’

But as I walked I began to feel as though concrete bricks were falling off my shoulders. Even if we didn’t walk far I often felt better.

Unity from my family

I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to do anything too strenuous, but I wanted something to work towards in the future. I have family abroad, so I made it my goal to visit them once treatment ended. I did get there in the end, and my family – most especially my two gorgeous grandchildren – were the best tonic ever.

Looking back on how I felt last year, there are so many ways in which I have moved forward. My confidence is also getting back to where it was. During chemo I didn’t drive because I felt wobbly. Then when I started to drive I felt a little weird and stressed. Now I enjoy driving with my family and feel happy behind the wheel. My passengers haven’t moaned yet!

I hope that this time next year I will feel even more energetic and find other little surprises as my body and mind get stronger. Everyone’s journey is different, but we find a way through.

9 Comments

  1. Jess July 13, 2018 at 4:28 pm -  Reply

    God bless you, Fran! You are a true inspiration. Keep that lovely twinkle in your eyes, it shines out hope and love. XXX

  2. Dawn Tindle July 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm -  Reply

    What a super story; so encouraging for others that might be going through similar situations.
    Believe in yourself and try hard each day to do something and a little more each time. You never know the power of the inner mind and strength.

  3. Serena Potter July 14, 2018 at 9:25 pm -  Reply

    I just wanted to say that this is such a lovely story Fran. I am just starting my journey after being diagnosed mid June. I had my first chemotherapy treatment a week ago Friday and I was so frightened about it all. However I had tried to focus on positives and it turned out not to be as bad as I imagined. Obviously I am just starting off and have a long road to travel but reading your story was an inspiration to me. I will think of it often, when times are good and bad and hopefully it will help me along and I will get through this and one day be better. Good luck with everything and take care but enjoy everyday love Serena x

  4. lisa jorgeson July 16, 2018 at 7:07 pm -  Reply

    What a truly remarkable lady you are.x

  5. Angela July 17, 2018 at 5:25 am -  Reply

    I also kept a diary during treatment and in the year that followed. It reminds me of how far I’ve come when I’m feeling low, it’s so easy to forget about the improvement made since first being diagnosed.
    I’ve got my first follow up mammogram next week, silly that I feel anxious about it as it’s important to have regular check ups.
    Take care everyone who is on this ‘journey’.

  6. Joanna Downey July 17, 2018 at 9:28 am -  Reply

    Very moving & totally inspirational. I send my best wishes to everyone going through this – Serena you are one step closer to the end of your treatment & one step at a time is all it takes to move forward, take care.

  7. Frances Arnold July 24, 2018 at 2:58 pm -  Reply

    These comments brought a tear to my eye. we are all going through this together, if we can give each other strength and resilience then that has to be good. keep going girls we can make the best of this.

  8. Frances Arnold July 24, 2018 at 4:35 pm -  Reply

    I have to admit that the comments above gave me a little tear or two. It is important for us to help each other and find ways to give strength and resilience , comments like those above certainly do that. we can do this and make the best of the times ahead.

  9. Hester Tulloch July 24, 2018 at 8:09 pm -  Reply

    I was diagnosed last August two weeks after finding a lump in my breast 3 weeks after hip replacement surgery I was very very lucky had two lumpectomy surgeries followed by radiotherapy and in December was given the all clear just have to be monitored for five years. I think all you ladies whose journey was and is much more arduous are champions.

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