Things I’ve Learnt – Breast Cancer Part 14

With Sarah Maxwell, personal trainer and the woman who gave me back my body. Thanks to Finca Buenvino for the location.

Photo: Georgia Read-Cutting


In no particular order…

1. Don’t put your Aloe Vera in the ‘fridge unless you’re into S&M.

2. ‘Tits’ can offend some people but if I say, ‘My breasts,’ I feel like I’m doing ‘phone sex.

3. Not even breast feeding in public can prepare you for having a young man in white coat, 6cm away from your nipple, announcing, ‘Perfect, beautiful,’ when he lines up the rays on the ‘big machine’.

4. Breast cancer biopsies hurt like hell and don’t believe them when they say that other women haven’t cried as much as you.

5. Breast cancer unit decorators are very fond of Orla Kiely.

6. That copy of yesterday’s Metro in the waiting area will still be there tomorrow.

7. Buy four sports bras BEFORE your op, then you won’t have to send your son to JD Sports when you get home afterwards and read the post-op literature.

8. Vit E oil works wonders on wounds and afterwards you can spread it on your face at night and stick to your pillow.

9. Join a dating website when you’re having radiotherapy [secretly] ¬†and have lunch with a guy who announces, ‘ I must tell you, I’m having radiotherapy.’

10. If you can’t feel any lumps, doesn’t mean you haven’t got breast cancer. Go get that mammogram.

11. Show other women your scars at every opportunity – their imaginations are far worse and they need to be reassured. Show men if you like – same goes.

12. You will find yourself walking ’round John Lewis like Lord Nelson. Let them stare.

13. Say CANCER a lot, it removes a lot of the fear.

14. If you’re lucky, like me, you won’t look ill – before, during or after your treatment. This surprises and shocks a lot of people and is not so good for the sympathy vote.

15. You do not have to wear pink. Ever.

16. Don’t Google. Don’t Google. Do not Google.

17. Fight for the NHS.

18. If you feel patronised by medical staff or receptionists, tell whoever is a-doing of it. Politely.

19. Take supplements before, during and after treatment. The best ones cost an arm and a leg but are well worth it. Find a naturopathic nutrionist and follow their advice. This is a time in your life when they genuinely will help.

20. Yes, you can drink while you’re having radiotherapy but drink too much and you will have the worst hangover EVA.

21. There’s a lot of it about but you will always know someone else who is going through greater hell.

22. ¬†Drink lots of water. Yeah, yeah, yeah…

23. Write it down. Obvs.

24. When spreading Aloe Vera gel on your tit after radiotherapy, do not miss out your nipple. Yes, it will feel a bit pervy but it will smart like hell if you don’t.

25. Your sexy, uplifting, lacey trimmed, underwired bras that have been the mainstay of your existence for the last 15 years will be banned for months and you may get to love your Sloggi one-size-fits-all. You can get them in black.

26. Your women friends will save your sanity.

27. Rejoice, your cancer gets great funding.



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