Hi, my name is Anneela Saleem and I am aged 42 years old. I have two lovely boys Omar aged four and Jamal aged six. I met my partner David in January 2012 after being on my own for 3 years. We are both GPs. We really hit it off and the boys took to him straightaway. He has two children Mia aged ten and Zak aged seven and we all get on really well.
Six months after being together I found two small breast lumps. I wasn’t immediately concerned but went to get checked out. We were going away on our first family holiday and I was seen urgently for a biopsy before we left just to make sure, but the USS wasn’t that suspicious. Two days after we got back I saw the consultant and was told I did have breast cancer. I just couldn’t believe it. My first thought was would I be around for my children and how would I tell them. I didn’t want to upset them but the breast care nurses explained that I must tell them as they would know something was wrong. Three weeks later I had a mastectomy and reconstruction as I actually had five small tumours but luckily it hadn’t spread. I then had chemotherapy from October 2012 to Feb 2013, which will be followed by radiotherapy this March.
I was really struggling with how to deal with having my life turned upside down. I certainly couldn’t work and looking after two boisterous young children and explaining why I couldn’t do much was difficult. Thankfully my amazing mum and two sisters practically took over. My breast care nurse from Stepping Hill Hospital suggested Beechwood.
Going to the weekly Beechwood programme has really helped me. The friendship between the other people and all the staff and volunteers is immense. It really helps talking to other people dealing with cancer and supporting each other. I have made some really good friends. The therapies I have are reiki and reflexology and are very relaxing and energising. The whole approach is very holistic and we are helped with techniques of relaxation and imagery. Going to Beechwood has been such a positive focus each week, something to look forward to and help us to get through a very difficult time.