The Pink Ladies Make-over

To mark Breast Awareness Month, SevenDays gave four brave ladies a special pink make-over. Here our Pink ladies share their inspiring experiences of how they survived breast cancer

JENNY Ridley lives with her husband Peter, and works at Fort Grey Museum. Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.

" I was diagnosed on the same day of my graduation with an Open University degree. I was a widow at the time, and although I was shocked, I didn't get upset. Telling my son lan, was probably the most difficult part. I think men handle illnesses differently to women.

I wasn't afraid for myself. I tried to be very positive about it from the onset.

I'd had an achy feeling under my left arm, but I was convinced it was muscle pain because I am left-handed. To be truthful, if it wasn't for the breast screening unit sending out an invitation for a mammogram (as they do when you reach your fifties), I would never have known.

I might not be here to tell the tale today.

My partner Peter proposed to me just after I was diagnosed, but I turned him down because I wanted tc wait until after my treatment. Although I was positive throughout, I didn't take it for granted that I would beat breast cancer.

I was treated in Ipswich because I have family there and I was able to stay with them in between radiotherapy sessions which lasted six weeks.

I was introduced to the Pink Ladies support group found it quite inspiring. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I directed her to the
other Pink Ladies who were able to offer advice and support from the perspective of someone who has been there, even though each individual case is different.

Peter proposed again when I was given the all-clear and we married later that year. What was meant as a quiet wedding at the Greffe turned into a lovely reception at the Captains Hotel, organised in secret by my son lan and Peter's children. It was a fantastic day, all our friends and family were there to help us celebrate

lan now lives in Australia with his wife Sam and Peter and I are due to visit them at the end of October for three weeks."

DOREEN Corbin lives with her husband Geoff and has two grown-up daughters, Mandy and Sharon. Doreen has worked at the Pathology Laboratory at the PEH for over twenty years.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago. It was a bit of a shock, but I have had a positive attitude about it since diagnosis. I never cried about it. The hardest thing was telling my girls and my husband. I had the strength to keep it to myself, but you can't keep something like that from those who love you. They have been so supportive and loving, and really aided my recovery.

Mr Allsopp treated me in Guernsey, he is a lovely man, a real gentleman. I had surgery to remove a tumour initially, but it failed to remove the cancer.

I went to England for a second opinion and a week later I was back in Guernsey having a mastectomy. Reconstruction surgery was not an f option. My husband loves me the way I am and I'm not worried about it at this stage in my life, it's just not important.

Radiotherapy and other drugs followed and now I'm here and happy to say that I'm in good health. I certainly don't take life for granted -when you survive cancer, it's as though you are given a second chance.

My family and I have just returned from a three week holiday to celebrate my Niece's wedding in Jamaica. Many members of our family were there for the occasion and it felt wonderful that I could enjoy it too.

Early detection of breast cancer obviously boosts survival chances, but I truly believe that a positive attitude is also crucial in getting through it."

GILL Weeks lives with her husband Andy and two children, Elliot, who is ten, and Evie, who is seven. Gill is a nurse on the Children's Ward at the PEH.

"I discovered I had breast cancer in April last year. Andy was with me when I was diagnosed which helped with the shock of finding out, although it can be difficult for partners to understand. My first thought was for my children and it wasn't an easy to to explain my illness to them.

Like many women who discover they have breast cancer, I had to have a mastectomy which is initially fairly traumatic. But now, I find it more of a nuisance than anything else! Particularly when I'm shopping for clothes, I am a little restricted with certain styles. It has been a year since my operation and I am considering reconstructive surgery, but it is not of utmost importance.

I was treated in Southampton with a three week course of radiotherapy and was lucky enough to have my family with me because we were able to house sit for a friend for the duration. I didn't feel particularly sick so we were able to enjoy our time in the UK almost as much as if it were a holiday.

I am a full believer in complimentary therapies and use Aloe Vera on my skin and essential oils that had my radiologist’s approval.

Aloe Vera is actually used for burns and found it particularly soothing during my treatment. I believe in spiritual healing and massage, and channeling negative energy into positive. There is definitely an emotional link with an illness like this and it is important to try and get of a grip of it all. Depression and negativity can be detrimental to your health.

I also followed a six week detox diet which Carol Champion, a professional nutritionist planned far me. and this was highly beneficial

The Pink Ladies is a fantastic support group, we meet about once month and although in a double-edged sword kind of way, it is lovely to welcome new members, because we can all support each other. It's certainly not at all gloomy, we have a lot of fun and always encourage each other to feel positive.

Overall, my illness has been a life enhancing experience, because it has reinforced my joy for life."

(Reproduced courtesy 24Se7en magazine)

Article from Issue 19 dated Friday 03 October to Thursday 09 October 2003

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