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'My work colleagues didn't visit me'


After my diagnosis of breast cancer in 2019, I had surgery to remove the lump and then, whilst marking up the scan for radiotherapy, the doctors discovered that I had unrelated lung cancer. I had an operation to remove these tumours plus my lymph nodes, followed by four cycles of chemotherapy and 28 radiotherapy sessions. I had my top upper left lung lode removed and a wedge from the lower left lode, both of which were malignant. The surgery left a large wound on my back which looked like a shark bite. It is barely visible now and doesn’t really bother me, I’m just glad the cancer was found early. If I hadn’t attended my routine mammogram, the lung cancer would have been far more advanced.JULIA AND FAMILY

I think because it all happened during the pandemic, most of my family didn’t witness a lot of the effects, and I didn’t really tell them how I was feeling. I’m pretty sure they were all very worried, maybe more so because they were unable to see me in person, apart from at a distance. I felt guilty because they were all so worried about me.

My husband gives great hugs!

My husband experienced most of it because he was working in hospitality and everything was closed, although he had returned to his job by the time I started chemo and radiotherapy. I spent much of the time lying on the sofa, although I did manage to take the dog for a short walk most days. It was so hard not being able to see anyone and not to have a hug, sometimes I really needed a hug. Luckily my husband gives great hugs. He did all the shopping, cleaning, and gardening too.JULIAS QUOTE 1

None of us really talk about it now, but I know if I’m unwell they worry. I’m almost four years clear now. I do talk more to one of my sisters as she’s been through breast cancer too, she rang me every day during lockdown. I did see a couple of friends when it was allowed, they came to the house as I was nervous about going into cafes or restaurants because of the virus. And because I worked in a school as a dinner lady, they wouldn’t let me return to work until I’d fully recovered from the treatment. This took a year, and I didn’t see any work colleagues at all. I guess people have their own lives to get on with.

I sleep a bit more nowJULIAS TIPS

I still get tired and breathless if I walk uphill or upstairs, also when it’s cold outside, but I do everything I did before treatment, just more slowly, and sleep a bit more! Walking the dog helped with my fitness levels. I decided to take early retirement to help look after my grandchildren whilst their parents were working, so running after those two helps with my fitness too!

My relationships with family have always been good, but I don’t often talk about my worries and concerns. I think I feel guilty for getting cancer and putting them all through it, which is silly I know – it’s not like it’s a choice.

Julia is 65 and has been married for 45 years. She lives in Hull. She enjoys walking her dog, who is her best buddy, making cards, knitting and reading.



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