Hi, my name is Ann Emerson and I am 54 years old. I have two beautiful daughters, Roseanna aged 22 and Charlotte aged 20. I also have a wonderful partner, Ian, who I have been with for 6 years. We were away on a cruise in July 2012 when I noticed some distinct changes in my right breast, I’d noticed slight changes earlier but had dismissed these as I had suffered with cysts for years and was having regular checks at Stepping Hill Hospital.
When I went for my regular check and as soon as the doctor saw me I could tell from his face that things were bad. I was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound and was booked in for a biopsy the next day. A week later I was given the devastating news that I had a large tumour and I had to start Chemotherapy within 2 weeks to try to shrink it making it easier to perform a mastectomy. I was in complete shock. How would the girls cope? How was I going to tell my elderly parents? I had no other relatives, I suddenly felt very alone, even though Ian was by my side all the way. I remember that day, saying to the breast nurse “is there anyone I can talk to, I can’t do this on my own.” She gave me a leaflet about Beechwood. The next week was just a blur of visits to The Christie and Stepping Hill Hospital for tests.
Words cannot describe how I felt was. I blamed myself for not getting checked out earlier, and then it may not have spread to the lymph nodes. I rang Beechwood a couple of weeks later. I started on a 8 week programme in November. The first day I walked in, I was so nervous, but I needn’t have been. One of the wonderful volunteers took my coat, made me a drink and told me to relax in the lovely lounge. As soon as I sat down I began to relax and straight away felt I could just be me, I didn’t have to put on a brave face for anyone. I made some good friends and the support of the counsellors, therapists and volunteers was just amazing. I honestly don’t know how I would have got through that worst period of my life without their fantastic support.