Appreciating life during cancer

How Amanda Luke has remained positive after losing her job and getting diagnosed with breast cancer within two months

Amanda Luke breast cancer
Amanda Luke was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2017

When Amanda Luke was diagnosed with breast cancer in April, she says it couldn’t have come at a worse time for her. The 42-year-old had just lost her job the month before and had started a new temporary role which she hoped would become permanent. 

Despite the life-changing events, Amanda has remained positive and is learning to appreciate life while living with cancer.

We spoke with Amanda about discovering her lump, why it’s important to do research and how life has changed since diagnosis:

How did you feel when you were first diagnosed?

I found a lump in March and went to the doctor straight away. They said it was possibly a cyst because it was so big and it sort of appeared overnight. I went to the hospital, and the person I saw said the same sort of thing, that it was probably a cyst. I then went for a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy. I started to panic then, thinking ‘why are they taking a biopsy if it’s a cyst?’. That had me thinking it was more serious. It was a week until I got the results, so I had to try and not think about it for the next week. That was the worst part – the waiting – the not knowing. Because your thoughts are in limbo and you’re not knowing what’s happening.

So we went back the following week and got my diagnosis that it was breast cancer. When they tell you, you see it in the films, they tell you all nice and gentle, but with us, it was like ‘you’ve got breast cancer, this is what’s happening. You’re gonna be having chemotherapy, surgery and possibly a mastectomy followed by radiation.’ It was bang, bang, bang, bang.I was in shock but also relieved that we knew what was going to happen, we knew the diagnosis.

What has your treatment routine been like?

I started chemotherapy on May 12. I’ve got 8 sessions of one type of chemo, and 4 sessions of another type. My treatment is not going to finish until October.

When you hear people have got cancer, you feel sorry for them, but you don’t really give them another thought. Then when you’re going through it yourself, and you see what people have to go through, like the chemotherapy, and how long it can take, that is just a massive shock. Because you don’t see that side. You don’t realise how long just the chemotherapy can take. Nearly six months is a long time to be feeling ill.

bamboo chemo hats
Amanda is also the model of our Live Better With Bamboo Hats

What has changed for you since you were diagnosed with cancer?

How much my family mean to me. They’ve been so helpful and rallied around. You go through life worrying about insignificant things which don’t matter. To have a life with cancer, you appreciate things more. So that’s one of the massive things that have changed for me. You sail through life not making time to see people because you’re too busy, but now, you make the time.

Last week me and my husband went on a day trip to Blackpool.  We had a fantastic day and it was great to do something normal for a couple of hours.

Amanda with her husband in Blackpool
Amanda with her husband Dean in Blackpool

You are quite early in the journey, but do you have any advice for others?

Well for me, I’ve done a lot of research so I know what I’m facing. A lot of people don’t. I saw a lady at the hospital and asked her what type of breast cancer she has, because there are so many different types, and she didn’t know. I think if you know, you can be prepared and ask your doctors and nurses the right sort of questions.

If you’d like to hear more from our conversation with Amanda, tune into Episode 2 of Cancer Companion – the podcast about daily living and cancer.


6 Replies to “Appreciating life during cancer”

  1. I was diagnosed in January, my last session of chemotherapy was the same day you started yours. Chemo was followed by a
    mastectomy with delayed reconstruction. I am starting 3 weeks of radiotherapy next week.

    It seems a long path, but as long as we keep our heart on the end goal, we can do it! Best of luck with the rest of the treatment, keep strong and keep smiling.


    1. Thanks Catarina, good luck with your radiotherapy. I do worry about the after effects that the chemo can leave on your body and health. I will keep doing my research and find ways to eliminate the toxins from my body once I have finished this stage

  2. I was diagnosed with bc last June 2016 I had stage 2 cancer . I had 8 sessions of chemo every 3 weeks in which the lump shrunk and disappeared . I had wide incisions and they took breast tissue and 19 lymph nodes away all was clear I then had 15 rounds of radiotherapy . I’m triple negative and now in remission. Good luck on ur journey . My worst moment was when my hair fell out in clumps. I hardly had any side effects from my chemo I suppose u could say I was lucky . Chemo is the worst treatment to have to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone . Stay positive , I did . Xx

  3. Thank you for this – i too was in the middle of redundancy consultations when i received my diagnosis but it does make you realise what’s important. I do feel my company were a bit callous in how they handled it all which has made me feel very hurt. Loads to deal with. Good luck to Amanda and God bless you.x

  4. Hello Amanda,
    I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late July 2017 which was a big shock to me.. I found a lump which was quite big.
    I was seen by a breast consultant and she was certain it was cancer from my very first appointment..
    I like you had a mammogram and biopsy which left me black and blue for weeks..
    I’ve had 3 lots of chemo which have made me poorly for a week after each one.. I feel trapped in my body and not able to go out because of it.. I have 3 more lots of chemo to go..
    My family aren’t close so don’t hear from them as much as I would like..
    I had just started a new job in a care home but not able to work at moment, which has also hit me hard as I have had 1 day sickness in my life of working. I’m 59 and on my own as lost my husband 20 years ago..
    Amanda I wish you all the best on your journey and will be thinking and praying for you.. XXX

  5. Amanda I had to have a little tear in my eye while reading your story, since losing our jobs, I know a few people from there that have lost their fight against this terrible disease or at present have been diagnosed with it, both my mother and eldest brother last their fight against the big C, they both remained positive although it, trying to make the most of everyday, I’m sure you will fight it all the way being a strong woman, I’m happy to say I was able to work with you and enjoyed our brief chats, you always had a smile and time for people, I have had my own battle with anxiety and depression and have turned the corner, I am sending all my angels to be beside you, they have been a shoulder for me to lean on, so I hope they will look afrer you and all my other friends going through this fight god bless x x x

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