July 2000…cancer was always something that happened to other people – definitely not me! I had a healthy life style, I wasn’t overweight, and I was very active – cycling, hiking and going to the gym.
One night whilst lying in bed, I felt quite a large lump in my breast – right underneath against the chest wall. Unbelievably, I didn’t in my ignorance rush to the doctors. I thought it would probably go away (a clear case of denial). A week later, it was still there so I thought I had better make an appointment.
Even my GP thought it might be an abscess, as it felt tender. Actually, that was just me being soft! He still referred me to the Nightingale Centre, to my utter amazement it was diagnosed as breast cancer and not only that; it was the most aggressive type.
The good news was that the tumour was still fairly small and would need radiotherapy and 5 years of hormone treatment. I thought I was out of the woods! In a way, I was, but nothing could prepare me for the loss of oestrogen, which is basically what the drug Tamoxifen does.
Overnight I became menopausal, having hot flushes that were so bad I felt like tearing my clothes off and if I could have rolled in snow, I would have done! I became forgetful too, often going out then doing something entirely different and not coming back with what I wanted.
I was too young to retire and in any case, I still wanted to work, (I was a primary school teacher). My class were brilliant – bless them. Some of the girls knew when to open the window and would try to help me to stay cool.
In summer, I became a permanent moist rag and would wake up every morning dehydrated. This went on for years, not months and I can honestly say that it was horrendous, and far worse than the op and the radiotherapy.
I could not take hormone replacement therapy – it’s not allowed once you have had cancer. The hot flushes have diminished now and I feel a lot better these days thank goodness, although I still overheat from time to time.
Everyone who suffers from this horrible disease has a unique and different story, but for me breast cancer takes away your self-confidence as a woman. I know many people will disagree with me but I can only say how I felt, especially when 5 years later I had to have a radical hysterectomy just in case there were any last bits of oestrogen lurking in my poor ravaged body!
Anyway, thanks to the skill and knowledge of the doctors at The Christie, I am still alive to tell the tale and that is why I want to fund raise for this brilliant hospital that is touching so
And for my friend Jo, who is fighting breast cancer as I write, who is amazing and still cycles with me, usually once a week, over the hills and valleys of Saddleworth.
That’s why I decided to cycle the Way of the Roses, across the country from Morecambe to Bridlington, with my school friend Lynda who came over from California. It was a very
challenging cycle ride of 170 miles across very hilly terrain!
The ride was exhilarating – an often beautiful journey through the Northern Trough of Bowland and the Yorkshire Dales finishing in The Yorkshire Wolds, then down into Bridlington.
The most challenging day was undoubtedly day 2, which has two enormous hills and many little ones, but offset by some fantastic descents. We had a lovely lunch that day at the Angel Inn at Hetton, sat in wonderful sunshine. It’s a gastro pub but we thought we deserved it! What made the journey extra special were the yellow bikes everywhere, as some of route was the same as the Tour de France.
Thank you so much everyone who donated so generously. Breast cancer is like an epidemic – it is affecting so many women: if everyone gives a little, together we can help to fight the scourge that is taking away our mums, sisters, nieces and daughters.
To make a donation got to: https://www.justgiving.com/Charlotte-Coleman2/