Suzanne's story

Suzanne McTurk, living in Moira, shares her experience of breast cancer.

Whenever I was 34 years of age, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2007 I started noticing some unusual symptoms with my breast. There was some oozing from my nipple I was very concerned about but didn’t get it investigated for several months. When I did it was found to be benign, thankfully.

However the following year in August 2008, I noticed there was some itchiness in my breast and when I examined myself further I realised there was a large hardened area in the underside on my breast. That is when I realised there was something terribly wrong.

From then it was a real whirlwind, of getting into hospital, having my initial surgery and getting started with my chemotherapy as soon as possible.

Some of the things I did to get through that time were to help myself feel and look as well as possible through having my wigs and my scarfs to cover my head, that was important to me as a young woman.

The other thing that we did as a couple and I did as an individual was to set myself goals, things I could look forward to and really aspiring to achieving during that time, for example, my brother was getting married in England towards the end of my chemo treatment.

And as time went on, I was becoming weaker and more ill with the treatment so that was a big and challenging goal for me. And it was important for myself and my family to be there and I did make it.

Even on a weekly and daily basis, I had smaller goals, for example meeting friends for coffee and giving myself a sense of purpose every day and every week.

After a year, I started to get back to normality, it does take some time to get your confidence back and feel that your energy levels are the same again.

I was diagnosed when I was 34 and now I am 41 – I have come through that a stronger more resilient person and I am just very happy to feel so healthy and so energetic and now myself and my husband live our lives to the full.

We are very, very busy with holidays, our social lives and our careers. I do look back on my experience with having had breast cancer and the treatment as something that has enriched my life.

The message that I want to give today is, if you do have any symptoms, anything that is unusual or anything that you are concerned about, please just talk to your GP.

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