Innovate UK Women in Innovation 2022/2023 Applicants

Breast cancer - Out of adversity comes opportunity

I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Latterly, I am a business partner of Kate Maurice in Skarlette Limited. I didn’t think that was something to grow out of breast cancer; but out of adversity comes opportunity. 

I love new experiences, to visit new places; the riches of life come in all shapes and sizes. Variety, impulse, enthusiasm, energy, love and laughter shape the way I live my life. On the 20th June 2017, like a bolt out of the blue, I was suddenly aware of a big breast lump that seemed to have appeared from nowhere . I noticed it when I was showering; It couldn’t possibly be cancer though. Not that sudden. Not that big. 

I had no fear of anything nasty (I’d had several breast lumps investigated since I was 18. It just seemed to be something that happened with me, it was never anything sinister). 

Friday 30th June 2017: the day I’ll never forget. It should’ve been a great night out in Manchester with 2 of my best friends. A few drinks, a concert, a night away. We still did this, but with a heavy heart, having spent most of the day in the breast care centre, emerging feeling shell shocked and stunned. Like the ground was suddenly unfamiliar territory, it was shifting; uncertainty, vulnerability and fear crept in. I wasn’t used to this. This build resilience though, and helped to shape who I am today – building our business with Kate. 

Breasts can be lumpy bumpy areas for us to get to know, making it difficult for us to recognise something suspicious. I tried to self-check each month, usually lying down. The lump I found in the shower was obvious visibly. When I checked it lying down though, it wasn’t nearly so easy to feel and certainly couldn’t be seen. Women need to do their self-checks both standing up and lying down for this reason. Beginning of the month, then it’s easy to remember, and this is women from their 20’s, not just older women.  

Unfortunately, I’ve made acquaintances with too many women in their 20’s, 30’s, getting married or starting a family. Sadly, nobody is too young to develop breast cancer. Any lumps, rashes, nipple changes, nipple discharge, puckering of the skin, ANYTHING unusual, should always be checked out. If a woman is ever sent away before being properly investigated and referred; told it’s nothing to worry about, they need a second opinion and they need the strength to advocate strongly for themselves. It’s so important that thorough investigations are done to eliminate anything nasty, or to increase the chance of beating this beast. 

 

I had snatched conversations with my husband, hiding in the garage, whispering on the phone to friends, jumping on text messages so my children didn’t learn anything unexpectedly. All the time, painting a smile on my face and carrying on as normal for them – I didn’t want to shatter their world until I absolutely knew I had to. That was one of the hardest weeks of our lives. Waiting. Dreading. Pretending. Work was a welcome distraction for me, but not for my husband. 

Practical tips from personal experiences were invaluable for me, and this is what I give to others. It means such a lot when you suddenly feel lost within your body and lost within your world. Whilst everybody has their own individual journey, and every cancer and treatment plan varies from one person to another, it helps so much to share experiences and tips and somehow this stimulates an inner strength which is important when a battle with cancer is required. 

I decided not to use the cold cap during chemo. I’d learnt about it a few years before my diagnosis when I was on a Macmillan course and even then, thought it wouldn’t be for me. It’s intended to help reduce hair loss, for some women it is extremely effective. For others, it’s not as good. It requires a longer stay in hospital for each chemo treatment, and it’s painful for a good few minutes. These were two reasons that influenced my decision about not using the cold cap. 

Therefore, before any treatment, and before any hair cut, I visited a local wig fitting salon. There was so much choice. In fact, there was too much choice. Who said brown hair was boring? There were at least 25 shades of brown – mostly with a coffee associated title! However, it would have been pretty impossible to choose a wig on my own. I was so grateful to my friends for helping me with this one.

 

People say that you find out who your friends are at times like these. I can truly say I found more people gravitating towards me, helping me & my family, offering support, love and care when I told them I had breast cancer. It’s truly humbling.  

That’s the opening chapter to my first experience with breast cancer. Four years ago now. Wow! Such a lot has happened since then. To be embarking on a new business with this quite unique lingerie for flat women with our Skarlette, is another massive chapter in my life that I had no idea would ever be something. Life has its twists and turns, it can be terrifying, it can be exciting. I grab mine with both hands and get out of it what I can. 

Kate has her own story, and that’s how we came to know each other to begin with. Our stories are important, because they show that out of adversity can come opportunity. Our stories illustrate that despite what happens in life, you can find hope and you can help shape the course of your future. 

Keep following to find out more about Kate’s story. 

Follow our progress on our social media

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published