We'd like to introduce Kath, the third and final of our Breast Cancer Awareness Month amigos. She took a Diana Mini about in her daily life to show you what it's like being a young person with breast cancer. Read on to hear her story...
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I am a primary school teacher and live in beautiful Bristol with 5 lovely housemates and a panda… I love all things arty and spend much of my time painting or taking far too many photos. I like playing badminton, dancing the night away, singing songs, exploring new places, drinking gin and tonic, browsing car boot sales and of course bagging a bargain! I also like sunny winter days, board games, the sea, dad jokes and anything French. Oh and I cook a mean Thai green curry!
How and why did you get involved with Coppafeel?
When I heard about Kris’s story it really struck a chord. I realised that I pretty much owe my life to a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27, six months prior to my own diagnosis and my brilliant G.P who took my concerns seriously. I am very aware that my situation could be very different had I not have visited my doctor and had she not have responded so professionally. On reflection it still amazes me that I actually did visit my GP; my symptoms were minimal and I do not like going to the doctors! But following the shock of discovering my 27 year old friend had been diagnosed I wanted to check my lumpy boob was ok. I have no doubt that if my doctor had dismissed my symptoms as being ‘hormonal’ I would quite happily have gone home, entirely reassured and would have been unlikely to return unless there was a dramatic change. Given that my cancer was super aggressive and had already began to spread to my lymphnodes by the time I had my surgery, I could very easily have been facing a very different battle. Following my own experiences, I want to support Kris in her mission and do all I can to encourage others to Coppafeel, visit their doctor and to ensure all doctors take the concerns of young people with breast cancer symptoms seriously.
How has your life changed since your diagnosis?
It sounds cliche but life really has been a roller-coaster since my diagnosis. There have been ups and downs and I’m still trying to understand the impact cancer has had and will no doubt continue to have on my life. Before cancer life seemed to be panning out rather nicely, I loved my job as a primary school teacher, I had began exhibiting my artwork, had just started dating a lovely guy and was generally busy living life to the full. Then cancer rudely interrupted and turned everything on it’s head. I am forever thankful for the incredible support offered by my fabulous friends and family who have made the past year remarkably enjoyable considering the barrage of treatment! Now that my treatment is less intense, I am trying to rebuild my life. I can’t honestly say I’ve reached that pinnacle moment whereby after having battled cancer all becomes clear but I am hoping it’s just around the corner!
How did you find out you had breast cancer?
I had been losing weight (intentionally!) but noticed that the weight wasn’t shifting from my right boob, I also felt an occasional sharp pain shooting from my right boob to my back. With my friend’s diagnosis in mind, I began to examine my breast and noticed that it was a bit lumpy and decided to get it checked out at the doctors. I fully expected to be told it was nothing to worry about but wanted to be sure I knew how to examine my boobs. One thing led to another and after a long day at the breast care centre, an ultrasound, a mammogram, a biopsy, and a week of worrying, I discovered I had breast cancer.
What stage of treatment are you at now?
I am writing this exactly a year on from my diagnosis and in the past year I have had a mastectomy, a course of chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy. Thankfully the most invasive treatment is now over although I still have a three weekly infusion of Herceptin (a hormone treatment) and will continue to take hormone pills for the next 5 years.
You’ve taken the Diana Mini around with you in your day to day life for a couple of weeks. Where did you take it?
I was hooked on my Diana Mini and took it all over the place. We were inseparable! I took it on nights out, on walks through the woods, to night markets, to the seaside where we happened to bump into actual daleks!! Oh the fun we had! Unfortunately the films then got lost in the post although that did give me the excuse to shoot another film or two over the weekend whilst visiting friends in London. So my Diana Mini also experienced a night out in Angel, many an hour in Harrods and a walk from Paddington to Camden Market.
What can we see in your photos?
Drunken shenanigans, Christmas and glamour and glitz at Harrods, and a wholesome autumnal walk with friends.
What advice would you give to everyone else in the big wide world?
- Life is about learning to dance in the rain, not waiting for the storm to pass.
- Cop another feel…
The Diana Mini is the ultra-compact, petite version of the Diana F+. This camera takes soft-focused, lo-fi images in 35mm and allows you to change between half-format and square shots with a flick of a switch. Get your own Diana Mini now!