This year Dorothy Perkins are pleased to announce that we’re partnering with Breast Cancer Care for our #TheStoryAfter campaign.
We know that after a breast cancer diagnosis, many women struggle to come to terms with the physical and emotional impact of treatment, with many not even recognising the person they were before diagnosis. Once treatment has ended it can be difficult to know where to turn for support. Many feel isolated, anxious and uncertain about life after cancer.
To help people take the first step towards finding their new confidence, we’re sharing inspiring stories of women like Ann who are taking back control and moving forward to embrace a new style and a new life beyond cancer. With an increasing number of people living beyond breast cancer, Breast Cancer Care’s support services are more vital than ever. To keep these services available for anyone who needs them, we hope these stories will help motivate others to support this incredibly worthwhile charity and help others get the support they need.
#TheStoryAfter – Ann’s Story
Looking to the Future
In the January sales this year I bought a coat – the kind of coat that fashionistas would call an ‘investment piece’. Hardly a remarkable experience, except that for me this simple act marked a shift in my response to the breast cancer diagnosis I received three years earlier. It wasn’t until after I’d made the purchase that I remembered a time when investment of any sort was far from my mind and, if I had considered it, I would have been terrified that the coat would outlast me.
Grieving Helps the Healing Process
‘Moving forward’ is an awkward phrase. Time marches on for all of us, whether we appreciate it or not, but a breast cancer diagnosis brings with it many losses. In my case it was the loss of a breast, loss of the head of hair I once had, loss of aspects of my self-image and femininity, and loss of control over my body and destiny. Like all major losses, these have to be grieved in order to help me come to terms with them. Grief is a slow process, lived through one small step at a time. It’s only when you look back that you realise how far you have come and how many wonderful things you have also gained along the way.
“It’s only when you look back that you realise how far you have come and how many wonderful things you have also gained along the way.”
Cancer is Part of My Story
Breast cancer used to be the first thought that entered my head each morning. Three and a half years on from diagnosis, I am still very much a work in progress, but most days I am too busy to think about it. The threat of recurrence still hovers over me, but I have learnt to live with it. That roar of danger has become, for now, a distant hum. Of course there are triggers that turn up the volume from time to time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Like it or not, cancer is part of my story.
I’m Re-learning to Trust My Body
Having been fast-forwarded by chemotherapy into the equivalent of an early menopause, my body is still doing surprising things. It is difficult to re-kindle a sense of trust in such unfamiliar territory. I haven’t yet reached a ‘new normal’ as I still have irregular cycles, hair which has gone from straight to curly and now back to straight, a reconstructed breast which could be improved, and an array of small symptoms which may be caused by chemo or simply growing older, it is difficult to tell.
“It means being kind to myself, forgiving my body, making best use of my strengths and abilities and recognising what is important and what is not.”
Investing in Myself
I recognise that my body image has taken a major blow and if there were more hours in the day I would stick to a fitness regime and perhaps eat more healthily. But investing in myself means more than just body image. It means being kind to myself, forgiving my body, making best use of my strengths and abilities and recognising what is important and what is not. And for this winter at least, it meant wrapping myself in a lovely, timeless new coat.
Ann’s story is one of many inspiring women who need this vital support that Breast Cancer Care can offer, see more about the incredible work they are doing here