A Breast Cancer Journey
Posted on 13th October 2021 at 13:15
On the 22nd October, every year we mark Breast Cancer Now's 'Wear It Pink' Day.
This year is particularly poignant for us as a network as we have had a number of ladies affected by this terrible disease. We are however pleased to say that they are all recovering and have overcome such hurdles, both mentally and physically, and continue to run thriving Pink Spaghetti franchises across the UK.
For us at Pink Spaghetti we are more than just a business and a network or virtual assistan franchisees, we are a 'family' and believe passionately in supporting everyone through thick and thin and in their lives beyond work.
One of our franchisees, Clare Farley, business owner of Pink Spaghetti Newbury has kindly shared her story, from finding out she had breast cancer as she also launched her franchise to her path through recovery. She shares the emotional and physical effects of her journey and we are delighted to say that after swift and successful treatement by the NHS, she is now Cancer Free.
'Please take a seat in the pink chair Mrs Farley'
2021 started all pink. Starting a business in a pandemic with a franchise that is all about the Pink. It quickly became clear that this was an amazing a perfect opportunity for me to do everything I love for a living- and my own business! Even in this pandemic, I have felt confident that this was the year for me- the year I will smash it!
What I hadn't factored into my year of the Pink was a different shade of pink. Hearing the words 'Please take a seat in the pink chair Mrs Farley' will never leave me. It was a moment of reality for me. I have breast cancer.
Let's go back to January this year 2021.
Christmas was over, we had made it as special as possible for the children as we had decided not to use the governments offer of allowing family into the home 'just for Christmas'.
It was such a lovely Christmas. I managed to get a lot of the time off from work and we also enjoyed Oliver's 9th Birthday in style just after Christmas.
I started the year knowing that this year I needed to do things for myself. I needed to put myself first for the first time in a long time. Last year I had joined the gym but with the lockdowns, it had been a staggered start to the gym. I really enjoyed it and had got into a really good routine but the November lockdown put a stop to it for me as following that the bugs and school isolations put an end to my routine. Now I felt I needed to work on myself.
As we went back into another lockdown here in England the gym was shut again, so I started with yoga and meditation. I soon felt clarity and very calm with everything.
I loved my job in digital publishing but had always wanted my own business. I had had my own Virtual Assistant business a few years back and kept it running quietly in the back ground as a back up, and had kept up to date with the industry as much as I could. I had also kept in touch with a franchise that I wanted to buy for many years ago. It was never available in my local area but by a huge turn of fate it was available and I was asked if I would like to buy it. This was on a Friday with the timeline to start on the following Monday or in April! I just thought I have wanted this for years and, to be honest, my role in publishing was getting further away from what I loved doing..... why not?! I immediately rang my Director and she was so happy for me and very supportive.
I handed in my notice and started to train for my franchise in the evenings. It was really hard work but I was loving every minute of it!
Starting my new venture!
So I spent January setting up my business with an amazing training scheme, along with two others starting their businesses. I have never met these two but it is like we have always known each other. We have supported each other through the setup and launch of each of our businesses.
So on February 22nd, I launch my Business Pink Spaghetti PA Services Newbury. Suddenly my life went very pink! I hardly wear Pink, but I was wearing it and loving it! I had a pink mug made with my Instagram handle on it and lots of other items.
My business took off so fast after my first launch post with lots of enquiries and lots of new clients.
I was attending local networking sessions online and really enjoying promoting my business and my services to provide organisational and planning help, social media management and graphic design. All the things I love.
I had achieved my goal- I was working for myself doing everything I love and life was all PINK!
I'm not sure about this shade of pink.
I was up and running and being so productive. Then one morning whilst taking a shower, I was about to shave my right armpit and felt the mole on the side of my boob was a little different. It felt quite solid. Now I do have to say that it took me a week to get through to the reception at my doctor's- I abided by the rule of ringing at 8 in the morning for an appointment but the queue was so long I gave up each day to concentrate on homeschooling- ours did real-time schooling so had to be sat ready and logged on on 8:45 each day.
I started to get so upset about it that I rang at 10 one day and said look I have a lump on my breast and I have tried over a week to get an appointment, and the response was- come in now!
The Doctor was so kind and calming and said that the mole was perfectly fine- a sign of old age sun damage, but under it was a suspicious lump.
She explained that she wanted me to go for a mammogram but that the letter would look frightening as would state 'Urgent Emergency Cancer appointment'. She told me this was standard and not to worry. I knew at that point. This is cancer- I just knew it.
I went home and kept smiling and video called my in-laws to say Happy 80th to my father in law and then they showed me his cake........ a set of boobs. I have no idea how I did not cry there and then. I didn't want anyone to know at that point.
The NHS were so fast and amazing, especially in the pandemic! I was very surprised when I got my letter the next week about an appointment the week after. I told my husband Paul and one of my dear friends JoJo.
So a month after I launched my business I was meant to travel for work to Cheshire to finish my training. I had to tell them why I couldn't go and their support was overwhelming.
The morning of the appointment I took my two gorgeous children to school, JoJo was there and looked at me and signalled the ok sign. I shook my head, kept walking and burst into tears. I had just dropped off my two babies all happy in life and I knew, I just knew that I was about to turn their worlds upside-down and when I saw them next I would know I had cancer.
I went on my own as deep down I knew what they would tell me and I wanted to face it on my own.
I went to reception to check-in and those words stuck with me ' Please take a seat in the pink chair Mrs Farley'.
I instantly felt sick. My year was meant to be all pink- a fun and exciting pink- not this dusty pink of worry and uncertainty.
I sat in the waiting area with other ladies and we all started to chat nervously, mainly about 'have you done your first lap yet?', I had no idea what they were talking about. Two went before me and there were two after me. I was called through to my mammogram. Two lovely ladies were there, making me feel comfortable. 'Please undress to the waist. I stood there, she looked at my boobs, looked at the machine, then looked back at my boobs then swapped the tray on the mammogram tray for the biggest one! I have a cheeky sense of humour and couldn't resist trying to break the ice....'I saw that! You had to get me the biggest tray!!' She laughed and said she wasn't expecting them to be quite that large!!!
This was my first Mammogram and tbh I found it uncomfortable but not painful, but I felt 30 more seconds and it would have hurt. I have since learnt that the bigger your boobs the less it hurts.......
Due to covid I then had to make the circular route all around the department to get back to the waiting area as it was now a one-way walk. Ahhhhh the lap!
The same ladies were there and getting quieter and quieter. A nurse popped her head around the door and said ' Amy? you're fine to go home, we will write to you soon with all the details. We all smiled and said bye to Amy.
The nurse came back and took me next to the doctor. She explained that there certainly was a lump and she wanted to do a biopsy on me and also an ultra scan on my armpits. Okay- that's good with me- then they get to do a proper check. I then did my lap back round to the waiting room.
One lady who was there before me was still there and just back from her biopsy and one from after me had just had her mammogram. The nurse popped her head around and told the one who had just had her mammogram she was fine to go home. Again we all smiled and wished her well. This was when it sunk in, She was after me but okay to go- so they must be concerned about something.
The first lady was called into the dr again and I didn't see her again. I was then called into the room for my biopsy and ultra scan. I was lying on this bed with my right arm up and I just burst into tears. I just knew. This lovely nurse (with gloves on...covid!) leaned over and held my hand. The scan was fine- she scanned both armpits and said oh these look perfectly clear- this is good. I then burst into tears again for relief. I had dreaded that as the lump was so close to my armpit.
Then she started the biopsy. I don't really know what to type now, but I didn't like it at all. I cried so hard for the emotional pre-empt of what was to come. It was a huge bang as it went it and really bloody hurt! She then said how brave I was but let's do another one to be sure.........
I got dressed and did another lap of the department.
As I sat there I realised that those who were okay to go home the nurse had come in and said fine to go...... she hadn't with the last lady. I sat there feeling like I would throw up. The nurse appeared. 'Clare can you come with me to the Doctors'. I knew! I knew! Anyone okay went home at this point.
I was composed as the doctor told me - yes you have a lump but we are so proud of you for coming in so soon. Unfortunately, this lump has far too many suspicious characteristics to leave it. We will send your biopsy off for analysis and get you back for the results next week. She scrolled through her diary then said, oh no will be two weeks due to Easter. She then said 'you need to know that when you come back you will be told which cancer you have not if'. She held my hand and I burst into tears.
The breast care nurse was there rubbing my back. I was invited to go and sit with her to chat more, but I said no thank you, I just want to go home right now.
I popped into the toilets on my way out a just fell to the floor sobbing and whaling. Then suddenly stopped. I cleaned myself up as much as I could to get out of the building then I walked to my car in floods of tears sobbing hard.
I started to drive off and called my husband to say I was on my way home. He picked me up all jolly 'all good babes?'.......... I sobbed the word no.
The Road To Recovery
Clare went on to have a range of treatment for her Breast Cancer and thankfully, is now on the road to recovery.
We are so proud of her and are hugely inspired by her positivity and spirit. We have stayed in contact with Clare throughout, whilst also giving her the time and space she needed during such a difficult time.
Since her return to health, Clare has been busy building Pink Spaghetti Newbury, which continues to go from strength to strength, whilst also taking care of herself and giving herself time to continue her recovery.
If you would like to find out more about Wear it Pink Day and Breast Cancer Now, click here.
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