I've reached 5 years...

Bolly dahling, sweetie, Bolly! 

Bolly dahling, sweetie, Bolly! 

Champagne drank from a new crystal glass, celebrating reaching my five year landmark of finding my breast lump and surviving…

I took this photo today, November 15 2014, five years to the day I found a cancerous breast tumour whilst giving my then-new-boyfriend a hug. 

I. Am. Still. Here! 

I've got mixed feelings towards this intimate moment in my life. I've made it,  reaching the five year mark, where the medical profession states the likelihood of the cancer coming back is greatly reduced. However, I live with the knowing too many young women who get to this stage, and cancer still manifests in their bodies-somewhere. Of this fact I will never ever become complacent… Though this possibility is not at the forefront of my mind as much as it was.

At this time, I am also feeling a fine lot of gratitude to the many who were present and supported me get to this place: my loving and now-partner Jon, my mother, family and friends, the many clinicians and medical professionals who've grown to know me by name over the last five years.

I'm particularly grateful to the large group of young women whom I met last week at an annual meet up of the Younger Breast Cancer Network (YBCN). I joined this online forum of women diagnosed under 45 years of age, many who have become virtual friends brought together by the commonality of being young with breast cancer, a factor that effects only 5% of women diagnosed with this dreadful disease.

My existence gave other women hope for their own lives.

Being able to meet face-to-face with these beautiful, vulnerable yet strong women, really moved my heart, and made up for some of the feelings of isolation common to a cancer diagnosis. Particularly moving was when women shared that speaking with me, at this stage in my life having lived through and beyond breast cancer for five years,  was encouraging to them.  My existence gave other women hope for their own lives, the possibility of their continuing existence.

This is why I share this intimate blog post, with the hope that it will encourage other women too.

I recognise today as an important day, and it's a time to celebrate life, hope and to thank YBCN for being there for me, even though I only found the network six months ago.

Lots of love to you all. Clover x

PS: in February 8, 2015 will be the day that I was told I had cancer. I think maybe then I'll do something to celebrate more openly but today I spent it with my partner... And my cats Jethro and Chaka Khan of course. 

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