This time last year I was a cancer patient. Bald. Single. Damaged goods.

In September 2014 whilst in the shower, I found a lump in my right breast. I didn’t think anything of it but to be safe I went to my GP who referred me to Kings Hospital. An ultrasound and a biopsy later, all three doctors reassured me it was most likely a cyst and nothing to worry about. So a week later I went in by myself to get the results.

Little did I know the C bomb was about to be dropped.

On hearing the word ‘Cancer’ I instantly thought I was going to die. But three days later I got a puppy and decided cancer had messed with the wrong girl.

My treatment consisted of a lumpectomy to remove the lump, three weeks of intensive IVF to freeze my eggs, six rounds of chemo, a re-excision to remove a bit more tissue and twenty-three sessions of radiotherapy.

Cancer is that old cliché – a rollercoaster.  Here’s just some of what it meant to me…

Butterflies in my tummy. Has it spread?  A one in ten chance of survival if it does spread.

DO NOT GO ON GOOGLE!

First chemo. Hospitalization for four days with a chest infection. I watch all five series of Breaking Bad back to back - the perfect TV show for a cancer patient. I had a head shaving party, tried wigs.

Second chemo. The anti sickness drugs cause constipation from hell!

Third Chemo. Blood clot in my arm. Hickman Line surgically implanted into my chest. Can barely move from the pain for two weeks. Blood thinner injections prescribed. Every night for ten weeks I have to inject them into my stomach.

I’m sweating, bald, bright red, having hot flushes. I’m going through the menopause! The chemo has messed up my ovaries yet I’m 31 and childless.

I’m on the tube with dour faces around me. I want to scream - wake Up! You’re alive! Go run in a meadow!

Twenty-two out of twenty-three sessions done and off to Glastonbury Festival with dancing, laughing, friends, family. Pure joy. I drive straight from the festival to my final radiotherapy session covered in glitter!

The end of active treatment. 

When I first came to the Haven it was like walking into heaven. It really does live up to its name. It is a place where you can shut the outside world out and forget about your troubles. There is a calmness that wraps you up like a big, warm, soft blanket. Stunning stain glass windows flood the beautiful building with radiant light. Comfy sofas, hot drinks, biscuits and an in depth library greet you. Always welcoming, the staff are sensitive and understanding. 

Every cancer patient and their experience is different so the Haven offer a one to one session to assess each patient in order to know what is best for them. They then provide ten free sessions of holistic therapies, which are wonderful. With my surgery scars, Hickman line, chemo side effects and radiation my body had experienced it’s fair share of pain. The Reflexology and Aromatherapy sessions I had, completely relaxed me. It was the first physical contact I had allowed in six months. I also received counseling which helped me process everything I had just been through and mentally prepared me for no mans land - when treatment is over.

The food is out of this world! Delicious healthy meals lovingly prepared in the cozy inviting kitchen. It was there that I got chatting to a lovely Peruvian lady. Often when you meet fellow breast cancer patients it feels like you’ve know each other for years. We are a tribe who just understand. After sharing our diagnoses, we then started talking about the Haven and how much it meant to us. We both agreed it had been a lifeline to us. This kind lady then started to cry. She explained that a few months after her breast cancer diagnosis her husband suddenly died. I cannot imagine what that poor lady must have gone through. Her grueling treatment - whilst mourning the loss of her beloved husband.

“Without the Haven I don’t know what I would have done,” She said.

That I’m here now feels like a miracle. I don’t know what the future holds, my cancer might come back, it might not. But right now I am the happiest I’ve ever been. I know it sounds weird but I look back at that year fondly. I have never felt so loved. Places like the Haven restored my faith in humanity. And cancer found me love. A mutual friend posted my blog on facebook and darling Mikey got in touch. He also has a dog exactly the same age as Edward and he lives by the sea. We haven’t looked back since and on Leap Year day this year I proposed to him and we are getting married in September.

It’s funny how the universe works.

Lara writes a frank and funny blog called  Get your tits out