Cancer Survivor Katherine Wilson’s Story
What would a 36-year-old wife and mother of two from Derby, UK worry about? Certainly not a cancer diagnosis, but she got it anyway. With no family history, Katherine was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in April of 2012. Hoping she can put this chapter of her life to rest, Katherine is seeking her “new normal“. The New Normal is a term a lot of Breast Cancer patients use – you come out of this fight with a piece of you literally and figuratively gone. And you don’t want to be the “old you” because that person had cancer!
“This journey was a complete shock, with no family history and as a fit, healthy young woman who ran regularly and went to the gym most days. I didn’t drink much, didn’t smoke and ate a very healthy diet. I will never forget the moment I knew it was cancer. During my biopsy I was chatting nervously to the nurse and Dr about my upcoming 10 year wedding anniversary and all of a sudden it felt like the air had been sucked out of the room. There was a look between them and I knew. They, of course, prepared me for the fact it could be cancer but I didn’t know for sure until a week after. The months that followed are still a bit blurry. I was in shock and coped better than I ever would have imagined. Certain memories still remain with me. My husband sobbing in the car after diagnosis and sitting outside our bedroom door listening to him trying to tell our family. Seeing the panic on my children’s faces after they’d been told the news. Watching my mum and husband trying to be brave when I received my first chemo, seeing their worried faces. My dad’s expression the first time he saw me bald. The guilt that I felt that I was causing all this worry and upset.”
Guilt seems to be a common feeling amongst cancer patients. While almost all would say they were happy it was them and not someone they loved, they also feel they’ve put fear, anxiety and sadness in the laps of their family.
Katherine’s treatment was fairly routine, as far as treatments go. “Treatment wise, I started with my operation (lumpectomy and auxiliary node clearance) in May 2012 and finished my Herceptin infusions at the end of March this year. Nearly two years that consisted of an operation, chemotherapy (3 x 5 fluorouracil (also known as 5FU), epirubicin and cyclophosphamide & 3 x Docetaxol), radiotherapy (25 sessions to breast and collar-bone, 5 booster sessions to tumor site) and 18 rounds of Herceptin. Now 5 years of tamoxifen.”
Having support from loved ones is tantamount to medical treatment. Katherine says: “I was extremely lucky that I had an amazing network of family and friends to support me. My husband especially who was there every step of the way, he never judged me, my moods or told me how I should feel or behave. This has helped immensely as you feel a certain amount of pressure with everyone telling you ‘cancer stories’ and making judgments. You are at your absolute lowest emotionally and physically and you are terrified.”
Her advice to the newly diagnosed is short & sweet, but oh-so true! “Be kind to yourself x”
After beating a disease as ruthless as cancer, Katherine some times cries when she hears Katy Perry’s “Roar”.