World Cancer Day : Jo's Inspiring Story
Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day. A day of great significance to many people, as 1 in 2 people will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime. It is also an important day at Rosalique HQ, as our co-founder Claudia unfortunately lost her father to cancer just over 4 years ago. We’ve been actively involved in the fight against cancer since then, by raising awareness and by partnering up with multiple cancer research and support charities in the UK (where we are based). At a lunch event we organised in support of cancer charity Look Good Feel Better last October, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Jo, a breast cancer survivor and all-round incredible human being. As part of our World Cancer Day efforts this year, we are sharing her story, to not only raise awareness but also inspire you to think about what you can do in the fight against cancer. Over to you, Jo!
I'm Jo, a 46-year-old single mum. I live in a village called River just outside of Dover, Kent, with my 14-year-old daughter Florence.
In 2017, after finding a lump in my left boob, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Due to the size and location of the tumour I had to have chemotherapy first, followed by a mastectomy. Initially my consultant only wanted to remove the one boob but that was NOT an option for me, I wanted both gone! Thankfully he agreed and in December 2017, I became a flattie.
In February 2018 I had 15 sessions of radiotherapy, which saw the end of my active treatment. I was then prescribed Tamoxifen for the next 10 years.
Unfortunately, after a few months, my periods came back with a vengeance and after numerous tests, the MDT (multi-disciplinary team) decided that I should have a full hysterectomy, which I had in 2019 (keyhole surgery). I was taken off Tamoxifen and now take Anastrazol.
I am still struggling with my hair growth, as you will see from my pics on my grid and stories. It grows, but it's very thin and fine, so I choose to keep it short and still wear head scarves.
I am also a huge advocate for women living flat, and that we should be given the choice, if faced with it, to have a double mastectomy (not just a single). Our bodies, our choice.
I set up my Instagram page to help and support others who are going through and have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. As well as shouting from the roof tops and reminding you to check your boobs regularly! Instagram has really helped me too, sharing my story and meeting so many amazing, inspirational people along the way.
People often ask me how I keep so positive and upbeat; that's just how I am. Don't get me wrong, there have been some very dark times, especially after diagnosis. Those first couple of weeks I felt numb; it's the unknown, you don't know what you are dealing with. All I can say is that if you are newly diagnosed, I totally understand your world comes crashing down around you but until you know exactly what you are dealing with and your treatment plan, take each day as it comes, try not to think too far forward, little steps and do not Google your diagnosis! There is no right or wrong way to react, everyone is different. Cry, scream, swear (I did lots of that!), shout, do whatever you feel you need to do but... Never give up Hope. There are so many people, charities, organisations that offer amazing support, please reach out for help if you need it.
I'll be 5 years cancer free this year, I can honestly say I don't know where those years have gone. Unfortunately, Cancer will always be part of my life but I park it firmly at the back of my mind, it sometimes rears its ugly head in my thoughts but I will not let it consume me. Life is for living, as cliché as it sounds, we've only got one and I'm not going to waste it worrying.