FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Today I reached a significant milestone in my breast cancer treatment, the end
of my six doses of chemotherapy. After my first three chemotherapy sessions
I began to compare myself to Wonder Woman; I had no sickness, no fatigue and
was bouncing out of bed every morning. But I was given a different drug for
the next three sessions which didn’t leave me feeling quite so wonderful.
My muscles ached beyond belief, my mouth turned to cardboard and my white
blood cells (which help fight off illnesses) all but abandoned me and I
ended up being hospitalised twice because I developed infections.
After my last session today I should feel over the moon, but it’s been a bit
of an anti-climax. I’m relieved it’s over though, and I hope I never have to
have chemo again!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
Now that I’ve finished chemo, a hot topic for me right now is the
much-anticipated return of my hair. I used to have a fiery-red
shoulder-length bob but now, due to the cocktail of drugs I had to take, I’m
like a newborn with fluffy tufts sprouting out of my scalp!
My wig is my can’t-be-without accessory at the moment. I know some women find
them uncomfortable to wear, but mine helps me feel normal. Feeling the
weight of hair (even if it’s not really mine!) on my neck reassures me
cancer hasn’t robbed me of my femininity.
I’ve been searching the internet for tips and advice on how to encourage my
hair to grow back. So far I’ve found three things that I think are the most
1) The Nioxin System Kit. This was recommended to me by a fellow breast
cancer patient and is a set of shampoo, conditioner and a “scalp activating
treatment” for thinning hair. I have to wait two weeks until the chemo drugs
are completely out of my system before I can use it, but will definitely
keep you posted on its success…
2) Organic sea kelp. My hairdresser has told me that taking this as a
daily supplement can really help encourage a healthy scalp and hair, so I’m
definitely going to give it a go.
3) Lavender oil head massages – they are amazing! My wonderful
granddad, Richard, gives me one every night before bed. I’m living with him
and my Nan, Barbara, in Ware, Hertfordshire, at the moment because they’re
both retired and can care for me 24/7. The massage is said to stimulate
blood flow to the scalp, which can inspire hair growth. Even if this one
doesn’t work, it’s been worth it as they are just sooo relaxing.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
After being hospitalised twice recently, I’m determined to try and avoid germs
and bugs so I don’t pick up any infections. If I do I have to spend days
cooped up in a hospital room receiving antibiotics through a drip. It’s so
lonely and boring and I don’t want to have to go through it again.
To give myself the best chance, I’m having five injections to boost my immune
system this week. Fortunately I’ve become very brave about needles so it
doesn’t bother me, especially when I know they could help keep me out of
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4
Despite my best efforts to look glowing and healthy following my last
chemotherapy session, I feel like I’ve been run over by a bus! I’ve got
aches and pains in my knees and back, and feeling fed up always make me
I’m trying to stay upbeat, but I’ve got really pessimistic now my eyelashes
have finally fallen out. I used to have lush, thick lashes, but now I’ve
just got a few sorry sprouts left, and slathering on mascara is pretty much
However, I do have a few great tools in the battle against eyelash alopecia!
1) Rapid Lash – an eyelash enhancing serum that’s helped me to cling on to
some of my lashes. I’d recommend anyone going through chemotherapy uses this
wonder product straight away.
2) Eylure false lashes – they give me beautiful, confident eyes in seconds.
As a self-confessed beauty junkie, I’ve also been treating my skin well, as
gruelling chemo sessions can leave it feeling really dry. My life-changing
product is Crème de La Mer Moisturising Cream. It’s £95 for 30ml, which is
well beyond my student budget but it was a present from my friend Heath, and
it’s definitely something I’m going to have to start hinting for at
Christmas, because it’s made my skin so soft!
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 5
My friend Abi’s mum Sandra has been giving me relaxing aromatherapy massages
to help with my aches, and they’ve really helped. The pain is caused by the
chemo drugs and the immune system booster injections. But aside from the
nice massages, I’ve been an extremely bored girl this week.
I’ve been put on steroids to prevent a possible allergic reaction to the
chemotherapy drug Taxotere, and the steroids have really interfered with my
moods. I’m usually a pretty chilled person, but these drugs have turned me
into a moody, PMT-inflicted teenager times a thousand! I get annoyed with
anything and everything, and just want to sulk constantly. That being said,
my nearest and dearest are great, and seem to realise that my personality is
being altered by my medication and that it isn’t my fault.
I had some bad news today. I might end up back in hospital in two days time
with something called neutropenia, which is when your white blood count goes
below a certain level and you’ve no defence from infection.
If I do, I’ll have to stay in quarantine for another five days. If this
happens, I will not be a happy bunny and will probably throw a huge tantrum.
It’s such a frustrating process.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7
My muscles are aching so much, I’m not sleeping well at the moment. However,
the great news is that I’ve managed to avoid being hospitalised this
The extra immune system booster injections that I’ve been having have
definitely done the trick and kept me out of hospital, so I’m over the moon
to be spending this weekend at home with my family.
More promising news has come in the form of my first post-chemo ultrasound.
The radiologist thinks my tumour has shrunk by 50 per cent. Hallelujah – I’ve
finally got some proof that the chemo is working and there’s been a point to
it, apart from making me bald and grumpy!
Next week’s schedule involves another MRI scan, which will hopefully back up
the positive ultrasound.
However, I do have a nerve-wrecking meeting with my surgeon at University
College London Hospital where we’ll discuss my imminent surgery and a
possible mastectomy. I’m scared, but for now I’m going to take my dog Joey
for a walk to take my mind off things.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11
Today I had my MRI scan at the wonderful Vicki Adkins Breast Unit in Welwyn
Vicki, a lady in her 60s, is a breast cancer survivor who raised a huge amount
of money to equip this unit and cover the walls with beautiful artwork. This
all makes a huge difference to the atmosphere of a hospital. I feel so much
more at ease waiting for appointments here and I even found several copies
of an alternative music magazine that I love and would never normally find
in a hospital waiting room.
The MRI scan wasn’t the most comfortable of experiences. Although it’s a
painless procedure, there’s a small scratch when the cannula (a small tube)
is inserted into my vein.
I do also find the MRI scanner slightly claustrophobic and the sounds of the
scans a bit overwhelming. During the scans, which last for about 45 minutes,
you lay face down, with your breasts inside two boob-shaped holes, your arms
sides and ear plugs in. You must lay totally still, otherwise you can
interfere with the accuracy of the scan – so naturally, I found myself
really itchy and needing to scratch – frustrating!
Please have your fingers crossed for me that the results of the MRI reinforce
the findings of the ultrasound I had last week, and that my tumour has in
fact shrunk by 50 percent.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12
One of my favourite things to do when I’m feeling well enough is to meet up
with friends in London. I’ve been doing it since I was 15, and love going to
Camden for gigs and shopping.
Hanging out in London takes me back to simpler times where I was so much freer
and didn’t have the worries I have today. I love the hustle and bustle of
Oxford Street, and today went shopping with my good friend Vicki Andrews,
from Reading, who I’ve missed massively since moving home to Hertfordshire!
Something I’ve struggled with has been not being as independent as I used to
be, since moving home. I miss just hanging out with my uni friends in
Reading and my job as a waitress there. But I know this is all just
temporary. I’m still young and soon I’ll be back to standing on my own two
feet living my life properly again.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13
Today, my dad Michael, 47, and I went to University College London Hospital to
meet with my breast surgeon for the first time. My stomach was doing
somersaults on the way I was so nervous. But it was a great comfort to have
my dad with me, and Dr Carpenter was very calming and kind.
The meeting today was the first of three important meetings discussing my
surgery options. I’m still struggling between the choice of a lumpectomy
(where the lump is removed) or a mastectomy (where the entire breast is
removed and reconstructed after radiotherapy).
There are so many elements to this decision because I am so young and of
course I want an outcome that looks natural and that I am comfortable with.
A lot of women are advised that a mastectomy is their only real option, so I
realise that I am really lucky to have the decision to have a lumpectomy or
a mastectomy, as my lump has shrunk to a manageable size.
I’ll be thinking hard over the next week about my decision and will meet with
a breast nurse next Wednesday, when she’ll show me photographs of the
outcome of various operations. It really is heart-wrenching to have to make
I don’t want to make the wrong one when my life is potentially at stake.
When I got home from hospital I had a package from my friend Joanne, who I met
at Reading University. She had sent me a framed picture from our graduation
this summer. This picture really lifted me, I’m so lucky to have such
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16
I’m in Reading this weekend visiting my university friends, Beth and Emma.
They’re leaving to travel around Australia for a year, so tonight we toast
their farewell with some yummy cocktails at a Hawaiian-themed bar called
This weekend’s left me with mixed emotions. On one hand it’s great to spend
time with my friends who I’ve missed so much since leaving university. But
on the other, it’s reminded me of how much I’m missing out on.
I’m not like other girls my age who can go out partying whenever they want,
and my life just isn’t as carefree as my friends. Soon I will have to have
breast surgery – either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy – and I’m worried how
that’s going to affect my body confidence and self-esteem.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 17
Today I receive two packages from people who follow my video blogs and wanted
to offer me some support and advice.
One present contained organic green tea from Chinatown, London, and the other
package contained the amazing book The Rainbow Diet by Chris Woollams. It
tells you all about various ways of changing your lifestyle to handle the
fight against the big C.
I’ve already changed my diet to exclude some of the things proven to encourage
cancer growth (dairy, sugar and red meat, to name a few). It seems the
Western diet does little to protect us from cancer compared to the
South-East Asian diet, which contains more fresh, home-grown food. As a
result, the cancer rates in Asia are much lower.
Although I won’t deny myself the occasional sugary treat or glass of vino, I
definitely intend to eat more organic fruit and veg, cut out alcohol (except
on super-special occasions) and all those naughty carbs (brown rice is
basically the way to go from now on!).
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20
After long talks with my surgeon and breast care nurse, I’ve decided to have a
mastectomy, which will take place on October 31.
All the cancerous tissue will be removed from my right breast and then I’ll
have an implant put in during the same operation.
It might sound crazy but in a way I’m looking forward to my surgery because
after it I’ll know that the tumour and cancerous cells have gone from my
I wish my breast could have been saved but MRI scans and untrasounds have
shown, as well as my tumour, small areas that could be cancerous but which
are too small to test. So the safest option is to take all the breast tissue
I’m scared of being put to sleep for the operation so I’m trying to keep my
mind off it by staying busy. And I know it’s a positive step in my recovery.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22
It’s just over a week until my mastectomy, but tonight I’m forgetting all
about it as I go out with friends Abi and Michelle to celebrate Michelle’s
It’s often hard for me to meet the girls, who are really close mates of
mine, because we’ve all taken different routes in life since leaving college
but having their support while I fight cancer makes a huge difference.
We’ve decided to really dress up and I’m even wearing (almost comfy) heels as
we hit Watford’s clubs and bars to party hard.
We’ve also booked a hotel so we don’t have to worry about running for last
train homes, and for one night only, I’m switching off the nagging voice
inside my head that tells me I should be careful about what I eat or drink.
I may have cancer, but I don’t want to see myself as a patient because I still
feel so strong inside.
Tonight is all about fun!
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24
I want to be as prepared as possible for my op next week, so today I went
shopping for special post-surgery bras.
I’d had a good chat with breast care nurse, who suggested I popped into Marks &
Spencer, because they stock special mastectomy bras which have a built in
pocket where a prosthesis can be added, so you can make sure your boobs look
in proportion after surgery.
She also said it would be a good idea to get a couple of support bras so that
I don’t feel too uncomfortable after the surgery.
It’s days like these that remind me that my health is so much more important
than my appearance. I love a cute bra as much as the next girl, but at the
moment I have to think practically.
Plus, I know that once I’ve got through the next few weeks, I can start
wearing gorgeous underwear again – whatever my shape or size.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25
This morning I got a call from a nurse at University College Hospital.
To make sure I’m fit and well for my op, she recommended I start taking a
strong iron tablet as tests have shown that the chemo has caused me to have
low levels of haemoglobin (the useful little thing in blood that carries
oxygen around your body).
It’s just another reminder of how cancer has taken it’s toll on me, so to take
my mind off things, my sister Gemma and I to go to Camden to see one of my
favourite singers – City And Colour (aka Canadian singer Dallas Green).
Although we have totally different music tastes, my cancer diagnosis has
brought us much closer and thankfully Gemma was more than happy to come with
We had such a lovely evening – it almost felt like the calm before the storm.
I know my surgery next week will be a testing time, but hopefully before long
I’ll be free to go to as many gigs as I want and finally live like any other
21-year-old girl again.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 31
Today was the day – I arrived at University College Hospital for a full
mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on my right breast.
My dad and I stayed at a nearby hotel last night because we had to be here at
the ungodly hour of 7.30am. We were both crossing our fingers I’d be first
on the list for surgery – in June, I had four lymph nodes removed and had to
wait seven hours to be taken into the operating theatre, which was a
Luckily, I was first to head into theatre this time.
But lying there in an ugly hospital gown, with my compression socks and
slippers on, I had a mini-meltdown in my dad’s arms. Being put to sleep is a
real fear of mine – I hate the thought of losing control. But the tears
quickly dried, dad reassuring me that the operation would finally remove the
cancer from my body. When I think of that, I feel such a sense of relief.
I don’t remember much about what happened when I woke up, apart from snapping
at my poor dad, who has been with me the whole way through. Now there is
numbness in my left-hand side of my body and I’m feeling a mixture of aching
I can’t see the results of the operation yet and won’t for a while, which is
actually okay as I know that my boobs are a work in progress! In the coming
weeks, the implant in my right breast will be pumped up with saline and my
left breast will be reduced in size. In six months’ time, I’ll even need a
new nipple to be fashioned for me!
For now, I’m on intravenous antibiotics and morphine, and I’m going to have
something to eat and a well-earned rest.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2
It’s been two days since my surgery and I’ve been trying to move about as much
as possible. I’ve also been doing special exercises with my right arm, as my
breast care nurse, Jackie, recommended to me.
I’ve had three draining devices attached to my right breast and armpit, which
remove excess fluid and let the swelling on my boob go down, speeding up my
recovery time. But I’ve made good progress and I can get in and out of bed
and go to the toilet by myself.
Then, some fantastic news – my doctor decides that two of the drains can come
out, so I can go home. I’m so happy, as I didn’t think I’d be discharged
until Friday at the earliest. My nan almost had a heart attack at the news!
I haven’t had much sleep in hospital because the nurses have to check my
heart rate, pulse and temperature every hour, so I can’t wait to get back
Being discharged was a bit nerve-wracking though because the remaining drain
kept popping out of place. Luckily, we tackled the problem with seven
heavy-duty plasters to hold the drain in place, and I was heading home by
As soon as I arrive, my grandparents leapt into action. My nan is my most
practiced carer, so I’m in safe hands. Now my plan is to spend the rest of
the week watching mind-numbing daytime TV, and receiving lots of gifts and
flowers (the last part I’m definitely not complaining about!).
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3
It feels so good to be home and back in my own bed, even if I have to lug my
weighty drain around with me whenever I move. I also have to keep an eye on
the amount that’s in there, so I can call up my nurse and let her know. I’ll
probably have to travel to hospital in London on Monday to get it changed.
I’ve also been encouraged to feel my new breast, to check for any signs of it
overheating or swelling up too much. My doctor told me not to be worried by
its size, but actually the fact it is small is a relief! I’ve lived with
such large breasts and been so self-conscious all my life, having smaller
breasts (eventually) may be a silver lining.
I’m not really in pain at the moment, just a bit of discomfort. Underneath the
muscle where the implant was placed feels really constricted, which is
leaving me a bit short of breath. I’ll mention this to my surgeon at my
follow-up appointment next Thursday. I’ll also have my dressing removed, so
I can finally have a shower without the drain getting in the way.
I do get restless with the constant hospital visits, but I’m absolutely
determined to complete each stage in my journey towards a full recovery. And
in the meantime my sister, Gemma, 19, has taken the weekend off work to
amuse me and stop me from going completely stir crazy – so we’re going to be
playing board games aplenty!
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8
It’s D-Day today – I find out whether my mastectomy has successfully removed
all the cancer from my body.
I could hardly sleep last night. I was wracked with nerves, imagining the
worst-case scenario: that the cancer has spread past my lymph nodes. If this
was the case, my surgery would have been unsuccessful. My dad came with me
today to University College London Hospital for the results. I was feeling
really anxious, but having him there helped to calm me down.
When I received my cancer diagnosis back in May, I felt like I could sense the
results from the tension in my doctor’s office before he said the words out
loud. But this time, the atmosphere felt much more laid-back, and my surgeon
and nurse greeted me with warm smiles.
I got the best news possible: the cancer has been positively removed by my
mastectomy and no further lymph nodes contain cancerous cells. This means
that the cancer has been stopped in its tracks!
I can’t describe the sense of relief that washed over me when the doctor told
me this great news. After all the worries I’ve had, I can finally let myself
accept some good news. I’m over the moon!
While I’m at the hospital, I also have a check-up to see how my op scars and
breast reconstruction are healing. It’s so comforting to know that the
cancer is finally gone from my body. I won’t get the all clear for another
five years of remission, which is a long time, but it’s within my reach and
I’m determined to fight and stay cancer-free.
I’m also now free from the drain on my breast that I’ve been carting round for
10 days. I’m so pleased about this as it’s been a total pain!
The dressing is mostly gone now, too. I’ve been advised to wash the area where
I was operated on with water for now, and I have to dry the remaining
dressing with a hairdryer.
My new breast is definitely still a work in progress but I really pleased with
it so far – my nan and mum have even had a peek and were surprised at how
good it looks at this early stage.
It will be gradually inflated with saline solution, starting in a week or two
when the bruising has gone down.
My nurse will gradually bring my new boob up to a C-cup. I’m going to have to
have radiotherapy, so my doctor has advised that we over-inflate my new boob
a little as the radiotherapy might affect the implant.
Though I know that radiotherapy could cause the implant to become hard and
misshapen, I’ve decided to cross that bridge when I come to it – it won’t be
anything that can’t be fixed by further procedures.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10
I feel like I’m gradually becoming more me again – the Katie before cancer and
the hardcore doses of chemotherapy.
I went for a walk with my nan today. I’m trying to gradually build up my
strength because chemo has really knocked my fitness levels. It was so good
to get some fresh air and stretch my limbs!
Tonight I went out in Hertford with my good friend Emma Martin to celebrate
the success of my surgery and my growing sense of freedom. We’ve been
spending a lot of time together since I moved home from uni. I think it’s
really important to carry on going out and doing things you enjoy, even with
Having the odd drink with mates stops you from becoming introverted. I’ve
known there’s going to be a point when I have to reintegrate with the big
wide world, and doing little things like seeing my friends has helped me
prepare for that.
It takes a lot of strength to face your fears, especially if it’s the big C –
but everything is easier with the help of good, reliable friends.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11
Since I decided to make my fight with cancer public via my Fabulous blog and
on YouTube, I’ve had lots of emails from other women in the same position as
It’s so comforting to know others are going through the same things as me and
I’ve been overwhelmed by the support.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14
I’m visiting my surgeon at University College Hospital once a week so he can
keep an eye on my reconstructed breast and how it’s healing. My ever-trusty
dad came with me, as usual.
This week, I was greeted by two medical students, which isn’t unusual as the
hospital trains a lot of new doctors. Still, it was a bit embarrassing
baring my breast to total strangers! My surgeon checked my scars and
commented on how well I’m healing. He also said the bruising has really
calmed down, which was great to hear. He thinks it’s time for me to begin
the inflation process on my breast, which will involve having a saline
solution injected into the implant.
At this point I started to get really nervous, sweaty palms and all. My doctor
reassured me that it shouldn’t hurt too much – after all, I’ve had to handle
my fair share of needles during chemo. In fact, I barely felt anything apart
from a dull tingling sensation as the saline solution was injected into my
The idea behind gradually inflating my breast is that the skin will stretch
slowly so that I eventually get my desired cup size. My boob is feeling a
bit tight right now, but this should ease up over the next few days. I’m
going back to the clinic next week to have the procedure again. I won’t be
nervous at all next time.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15
Since my operation I’ve been working through the post-surgery exercises my
nurse recommended so that I can regain all the movement in my right arm.
Because I had all my lymph nodes removed during my operation, that scrambled
up my nerve endings and means I might need physiotherapy to get them fully
Before this, I’d never even suffered a broken bone, so I had no idea how
annoying it would be. I have a tugging, aching feeling down the side of my
arm and I can’t reach up high without it being painful. I can’t carry
anything too heavy, either – even picking up my dog Joey (who is a bit
overweight!) is hard work. I’m hoping my arm will improve on its own, but if
it doesn’t University College Hospital offer physiotherapy for post-op
I’m also checking to make sure I don’t get lymphedema, which is a swelling of
the arm due to the removal of the lymph nodes. This can happen if you put
too much pressure on a poorly arm by carrying heavy things. However, I’ve
also used this to my advantage – so no carrying heavy shopping bags for me!
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Last night was my best friend Abi’s 22nd birthday, so we headed to Hertford to
Abi’s birthday is usually in university term time, which means I’ve missed it
for the past few years. But now I’m back at home, I’ve been able to do my
proper best-friend duties and arrange something special.
I booked a table for seven of us at Pizza Express and decorated it with big
balloons and glittery decorations. I wanted to make Abi feel special. I also
forced her to wear the huge birthday badge I’d got her! I think she felt
We had copious amounts of wine and pizza and then headed out to some bars. We
met up with our boy mates, then celebrated into the early hours of the
morning. I had my first hangover for a long time, but like a trooper, I’ve
wrenched myself from bed to write this blog entry!
Monday, November 21
Today I visited my surgeon in London to have another 50ml of saline solution
injected into my breast. Everything seems to be going well. The scars on the
lower part of my boob are fading and healing nicely, which I’m really
Now that I’ve had two saline injections, my breast is starting to look a lot
plumper – the way it should do – and I’m feeling more positive about my
boobs. I’m still finding it quite hard to look at them in the mirror – my
reconstructed breast still feels a bit alien. But, once I’ve had the breast
reduction on my healthy breast, I know things will look much more in
proportion and I’ll be a lot happier.
I’m also organising my radiotherapy sessions. Because the cancer was in two of
my 13 lymph nodes, I need extra radiotherapy treatment. It works on a
precise area of skin and tissue to totally kick cancer’s butt.
Unlike chemotherapy, I shouldn’t suffer from sickness because radiotherapy
doesn’t attack your whole body in the way chemo does. But I’ve been told
I’ll probably feel really fatigued which worries me a bit, as I like to keep
busy every day by seeing my friends. I’m not looking forward to a repeat of
the cabin fever I got when I had chemo – I hate missing nights out with my
Tuesday, November 22
Even though I wear lots of wigs and try not to make a big deal out of my hair
loss, I thought I’d be super-brave and let you readers see my regrowth.
I’ve been taking a photo each week so I can see how quickly my hair is growing
back. This picture shows it eight weeks after finishing chemo.
I’ve got a clearly defined hairline again, which is fab. My hair didn’t
actually start growing back at all until four weeks after chemo, as the
drugs hadn’t fully left my system until then. This includes my eyebrows and
I’ve definitely missed having hair! I’m hoping to have enough by Christmas to
rock a pixie crop. But for now I’m sticking to my “wonder wig” – my trusty
shoulder-length red wig, which has fooled loads of people into thinking it’s
actually my real hair!
Today I was really thrilled to notice that my eyelash roots are beginning to
peep through! I’ve started using a product called Li Lash (£88
for 5.91ml) that a friend recommended to me.
It’s a growth serum, which should help my lashes to grow back faster. I’m
going to use it every day for a month and then report back to you on the
results! I’d love to be using mascara again this time next month.
Wednesday November 23
Today I went to the divine Sally’s restaurant in Covent Garden with my friend
Vicki. We’re a troublemaking twosome when we’re together and today proved to
me that cancer doesn’t have to be the end of your social life. I’m still
young – just a little less carefree! I love Covent Garden at Christmas time
as it’s so festive and pretty.
Vicki dared me to order a bottle of champagne and I did – we wanted to
celebrate her promotion to assistant manager at the bar she works in. I’ve
become a bit of an ambassador for the “live for the moment” lifestyle so we
ordered a bottle of Laurent Perrier Rosé and totally enjoyed it!
As for food, I’m sticking to a no-carbs, low-alcohol diet for the rest of the
I’m also looking into joining the gym again because I’ve put on a bit of
weight from the steroids I had to take during chemo. Cancer has definitely
changed my self-image, but it’s driving me to get my figure and my
confidence back again.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28
Today I hit the gym for the first time in six months! The anti-sickness drugs
I took during chemo have made me gain a stone and a half, which I’m
determined to burn off. I’ve made a pact with my friend Emma – we’re going
to head to the gym together three times a week. There is also lots of
research to show that at least two hours of exercise a week can improve a
cancer patient’s chances of survival, which is motivating me even more to
get fit again.
Before I had cancer I was always a healthy size 10, so putting on weight has
been psychologically really hard to deal with. But I’m going to make it my
New Year’s resolution to get back to my pre-cancer size.
I’m also starting to think about the future, especially the tough topic of
employment. Getting a job is really tricky for any graduate right now, but
for me, having fought cancer and being so isolated, it’s really daunting to
think about. I literally don’t know where to begin.
I’d love to be a journalist, and I’m confident that I can do it, but I will
need people to cut me some slack and take into account that I’ve been out of
the loop when it comes to jobs for some time now.
That being said, this only makes me more determined to make a success of my
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30
I went to see my oncologist today, and found out that I’ll definitely need
radiotherapy. Up until now we weren’t totally sure whether I’d need it, but
due to the size of the tumour in my breast and lymph nodes, I’m going to
need three weeks of radiotherapy, after all.
The treatment is localised to my neck and breast and will take about 30
minutes at a time. It might also cause some redness and soreness. I won’t be
able to use perfumed products around the area and will have to use aqueous
cream and gentle soaps instead.
I’m going to start my radiotherapy just after Christmas, but I don’t get a
break before then, because I’m still having my breast inflated with saline
in the meantime – annoying!
Today I also started taking the oestrogen-blocking drug Tamoxifen. I’m going
to be taking one tablet a day for the next five years, which seems like a
really long time, but it will be worth it because the drug helps to block
the growth of cancer cells and will improve my long-term chances of
Side effects are hot flushes (brilliant!) and extra PMT for the first three
months while my hormones figure out what’s going on.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 1
I’ve been to the gym three times this week – that’s dedication! I feel more
energized, less anxious and more confident, so I’m definitely going to keep
my new routine up.
Something that’s been playing on my mind recently is re-growing my hair. After
cancer, hair can often get what is known as the “chemo curl” – growing back
upwards and curly. I don’t really think I have what it takes to pull off an
afro, so I’m looking for ways to get my hair to grow back sleek.
I’ve been looking at relaxants, but I’m worried that they might cause damage
to my scalp which is super-sensitive right now. There’s got to be something
that will fight the ominous frizz though, and I’m determined to find it.
I’ve also got a very special event coming up soon. Close friends of my family
Leslie and Sacha Baldock, are putting on a second charity gig in my honour.
Last time we did it we raised £700 for the Teenage Cancer Trust so we’re
hoping to do just as well this time. It’s also especially poignant for me
because I was in hospital during the first charity gig and wasn’t able to
attend – so being there this time means the world to me. I’ll proudly show
my support for the brilliant Teenage Cancer Trust.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 5
Today I got my eyebrows tattooed! It’s something I’ve wanted to get done for
ages, after losing my brows due to chemo. I’ve had them tattooed on before,
but I didn’t think that the shape from my last treatment was that great,
plus they’d faded, so I was keen to get them sorted.
I headed down to Harley Street in London and met the wonderful Chrissy of
Lash-Is Boutique. She does semi-permanent makeup for lots of women who have
lost their brows due to cancer or alopecia.
And the big question – did it hurt? No, not at all! My eyes watered a bit, but
that was all. And my brows now look fantastic. They’ll last a couple of
years – they’re less permanent than a normal tattoo as the needle doesn’t
penetrate as deep into the skin.
I’m going back to the clinic in six weeks time, once my brows have fully
healed, so that Chrissy can do any touch-ups and check that I’m happy with
It’s amazing how much difference clearly defined eyebrows can make to your
face. While I’m waiting patiently for my lashes to return, getting my
eyebrows sorted has given me a big self-confidence boost.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8
I got told off by my surgeon today for going swimming too soon after my
surgery because my scars haven’t settled just yet. So I’m going to start
doing more Zumba classes instead!
Going to Zumba and doing three gym sessions a week is helping me to feel
really positive about my body. I can already feel my legs toning up, which
I’ve been on the anti-oestrogen drug, Tamoxifen, for a week now, and so far I
haven’t had any PMT tantrums or hot flushes (touch wood!). For once, all
I’ve got to worry about is Christmas shopping. In fact, I’m off to hit the
shops right now!
MONDAY, DECEMBER 12
Since I finished my chemo, I’ve been desperate for my eyelashes to grow back
and I’ve been using lash serum LiLash to boost and strengthen them. I’m
really pleased with the re-growth, and today I put mascara on for the first
time in months before a catch-up lunch with a friend.
It’s just little things like doing my eye make-up that make me feel “normal”
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 13
Today I had my last boob inflation session, and now I’ve got two lovely
symmetrical breasts. I’m so happy and I feel so much more comfortable in
low-cut tops now because you really wouldn’t know that one of my breasts is
a “foob” (that’s fake boob!).
After I finish my radiotherapy, I’ll have some more surgery to my left breast
– a reduction and an uplift – and my fake boob will be given a new nipple,
which I guess you could say will be the cherry on the top of the cake!
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15
Today I can proudly announce that I, Katie Huttlestone, have a full head of
In fact, it’s growing so nicely it’s even beginning to venture over my ears,
like a pixie crop.
I know I’ll have to get it trimmed soon, to encourage it to keep growing, but
the thought of allowing someone to cut it is scary given the months I’ve
spent waiting for it to grow back.
I’ve asked Santa for a pair of straighteners for Christmas, so I can style it
myself and hopefully ditch my wig in the New Year.
This week I also made a new video blog discussing the final appearance of my
reconstructed breast in greater detail. I’ve had such great feedback from
the video, with people remarking how good I look – a confidence booster is
always much appreciated!
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19
Although chemotherapy and the other various treatments I’ve endured over the
last few months have been amazing at zapping my cancer, I’ve discovered they
don’t actually have much consideration for the way you look.
And as brilliant as my oncologist is, he’s yet to sit me down and lecture me
on the different ways too maintain my self-image or give me tips on double
So everything I’ve learnt about looking after my skin has been discovered
through trial and error and, thankfully, for the moment I seem to be getting
it just right.
Usually in winter my face gets very dry, but the tamoxifen drug I’m on to help
with my hormone levels has caused it to become oily. This would usually be a
problem, but has actually counteracted the dryness and really improved the
condition of my skin.
So, for the first time in ages, my foundation is going on super-smoothly – yay!
It may seem a small victory in the grand scheme of things, but I always like
to find a little silver lining and see this as one of the better things
cancer has done for me!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20
Tonight was our second charity gig for Teenage Cancer Trust with performances
from three amazing acts – Orlando Seale And The Swell, Duke Special and
Ruairi de Leastar.
We also sold cakes, which I’d baked with friends the night before, had a
raffle and an auction that even included a meal cooked in the comfort of
your own home by Russell Crowe’s ex personal chef!
Overall, we raised £1,500 on the evening and, with an extra donation made to
my Just Giving page, I finally hit my £2,000 target.
It was so heart-warming to help raise such a huge sum for young people also
affected by the big C and it filled me with a real sense of pride knowing
friends and strangers alike felt equally as passionate about helping to save
CHRISTMAS DAY, 2011
Like so many families up and down the country, I spent today filling up with
fantastic food (thanks Nan for an AMAZING dinner!), opening presents and
getting merry on the fizz.
But I also found time to reflect on the year I’ve just had.
At 21, it should have been twelve months filled with fun, but instead it was
undoubtedly the toughest of my life and a real test in patience.
I lost friends and gained new ones, experienced the dazzling love and support
of my family, stared death in the face – and demanded that it went away.
I’ve also amazed myself and now believe you can never know the true extent of
your own strength until you have fought something as ruthless as breast
Losing my breast meant I had to readjust to my own body, while chemotherapy
meant I lost my beautiful red hair and had to become comfortable with
looking at myself in the mirror sporting a wig.
But this year, although having been a real rotten apple, has also had its more
I’ve been given the chance to spend a lot of time with my grandparents whom I
am truly grateful for, and my mum, dad and sister have all rallied around me
in a real display of love and dedication.
So now all that is left for me is to strive for positivity and hope and pray
that 2012 has better things in store for me.
- For advice and support on dealing with cancer, call Breast Cancer Care free on
0800 600 8000 or visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk.
- CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young
people. To find out more about the services they provide, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk
- To see Katie’s YouTube diary, visit www.youtube.com/Katiestone7.