A breast cancer diagnosis is shattering, and when I was diagnosed with an unusual occult breast cancer in 2012 at the age of 48 my world spun on its axis. Six months earlier I had completed the trip of a lifetime travelling the world for seven months, and was four months into a new consulting job after leaving my corporate career of 25 years. I had a very successful career doing a job I loved, and my identity was very much wrapped up in Sally-Anne the successful finance professional.
On the day he told me I would be having a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and taking hormone treatment for at least 5 years, my surgeon said I would be putting my life on hold for 12 months. Whilst good advice, this was only partially true. I was fortunate to be able to work during treatment. Putting my wig on; slapping my prosthesis in my bra, and painting on my eyelashes and eyebrows, I continued to deliver month ends and a significant change programme. But when my contract ended 12 months after diagnosis I took the opportunity to take a breath and reassess my life. I’m not massively keen on ‘new normal’, but I was able to rebuild my shattered world differently.
Roll on eight years and I am still a successful finance professional. Only now I work with woman led social enterprises. I am living happily breast free and am an advocate for women’s right to choose the surgery they want after a breast cancer diagnosis.
I have rediscovered my love of exercise and am fitter than I’ve been since my teens and finally am more confident in my body than I have ever been. Being flat is now as much a part of my identity as my professional qualifications, and I’ve achieved that state of acceptance supported by the many great women I’ve met through Flat Friends and Breast Cancer Care during the last 8 plus years.