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 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.

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.

2 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.

    Catarina

    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

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