I love swimming!
When I was 10 years old I won the front crawl race in the inter-school tournament. My Mum still has the photo on her wall of me holding the trophy.
So a daily dip has been part of my routine for most of my life........
Fast forward 32 years..... I came home from giving a personal training session and needed a shower. That was when I first discovered the lump. I had a small, hard lump on my left breast and I promise you, it was not there the last time I had a shower.
I have done too many press-ups??? Yes, pulled a muscle???
3 days later...the nagging voice in my head would not shut up. Call the Doctor Michel, you need to call the Doctor.
But what about my fear of Doctors, I never call the Doctor.
So, I called the Doctor.
He felt the lump and said "I can not reassure you at this point. You will be seen at the breast clinic within two weeks".
After a mammogram, scan, and biopsy I found out I had breast cancer.
My youngest child was two years and two months. I had breastfed him until he was two. They told me breastfeeding protects women against breast cancer. I was shocked.
I had a lumpectomy, 6 rounds of chemotherapy and some radiotherapy. I had a few little children at home at the time. So, it wasn't easy.
Fast forward 2 years.... I had put the cancer behind me. My hair had grown back, the wig was in the cupboard and I was back in the swimming pool.
Until....I went for my routine mammogram and found out I had breast cancer in the other breast.
This time I was going to have a double mastectomy, more chemotherapy, and more radiotherapy.
Fast forward another two years.....
I was cancer-free, getting my strength back and I wanted to start going swimming again. BUT, I had not had breast reconstruction. I was wearing a prosthesis. Would I have the courage to wear a swimming suit?
I did a lot of shopping around and eventually found a post-surgical swimsuit (that I could put my prosthesis into). It had a large frill that covered my breast area. I bought it from a shop called Asda - George UK.
I packed my swimming bag and left it by the front door for a week, then two.
Could I let go of feeling self-conscious? Could I come to terms with my new body? Could I learn to love my new body and even be proud of it?
The answer to all these questions was YES!
I took my swimming bag to the car and drove to the pool.
It is impossible to describe the delicious feeling of the cool water on my skin as I glided across the pool.
I waded out of the pool and don't think anyone even looked my way.
I was still wearing a wig at the time as my hair had not grown back very well. So, behind the cubicle door, I took off my swimming cap and put on my surgical bra and wig.
The next week I was in the pool with my kids. They were completely accepting of my new body. We had a lovely afternoon.
I have written this article because I want to everyone who has had a similar experience to me to know, that it is possible to live life to the full post-mastectomy.
Let's get the message out....
You can chat with other heroes on my FB page daretowearyourhair
We are a community of wig wearers. Some are cancer survivors. Others alopecia heroes and some just wear wigs for fun.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
All correspondence will be treated in strict confidence