Emma takes on The MoonWalk Iceland, to mark her recovery from breast cancer

I’m thrilled to be celebrating the fact that after ten years, I’m still here.

Emma (right) and her mother-in-law Jo

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, at the age of just 35. I’m taking part in The MoonWalk Iceland with a wonderful group of friends and family, to mark 10 years since my diagnosis and to celebrate being alive!

Before I was diagnosed, I wasn’t really in the habit of checking my breasts regularly – I just did it every now and then. I remember getting back from holiday and standing in front of the mirror to see whether I’d tanned at all – I’m very fair skinned! However, when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my left breast was a bit lower than the other one and it just didn’t seem quite right.

Although I couldn’t feel a lump, I made an appointment with my GP straight away, as I wanted to get my breast checked out. My doctor did find a lump and referred me straightaway for more tests.

My mother-in-law Jo came with me to get my results. I remember us sitting there laughing – we were both convinced that I had an ingrowing hair or something like that. At the age of 35, the thought of potentially having breast cancer hadn’t even entered my mind – Jo and I were both sure that there’d be nothing to worry about.

It was a huge shock when I was told that I did have breast cancer – there was no history at all of the disease in our family. I completely broke down for a while, but then I remembered a friend who was fighting breast cancer at the time. The thought of her grounded me - I took a deep breath and asked the doctor to explain all my options. Sadly, my friend passed away during the first Covid lockdown.

My initial treatment was a single mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy.  A year or so later, I had my other breast removed and reconstructed at the same time. I didn’t want to risk being diagnosed with breast cancer on the other side too and having to go through all the treatment again.

This whole period was a very difficult time for me. My children were still very young -  Evie was four, Emily was 10 and Jack was 12. Being so young myself, was hard – I’d always thought of breast cancer and chemotherapy as being something which happened to much older people.  I was very lucky to have such a wonderful support network, including my mother-in-law Jo, my husband Jonathan and all my friends. During chemotherapy, I decided to shave all my hair off, as it was falling out anyway. I remember the children calling me Yoda (the character from Star Wars) which made them laugh!

Emma (left) with children Evie and Jack and husband Jonathan

Jo and I decided to sign up for The MoonWalk London the following year - as soon as I finished my chemotherapy, I gave myself a couple of weeks’ rest before I started my MoonWalk training. At that point I could only manage to walk to the top of the street! The goal of taking part in The MoonWalk London really gave me something to concentrate on. Jo and I completed the 26.2 miles Full Moon – it was a really hard challenge, but we did it!

When Jo and I signed up for the London event, we also agreed that if I survived another ten years, we’d celebrate by taking part in The MoonWalk Iceland and here we are! Originally, it was just going to be the two of us, but now we have a big team, including some of our gym buddies and my colleagues at Willow primary school where I work as a teaching assistant.

Emma on right with daughter Emily

Life has changed so much in the decade since my diagnosis. My children are now 13, 20 and 22 and I also have a different job. My new work colleagues had no idea that I’d even been diagnosed with breast cancer, until I told them that I’d signed up for The MoonWalk Iceland. A lot of people are only just finding out about my breast cancer – it feels like I’m owning up to something! I know that I’ve changed as a person over the last ten years – I used to be quite timid and would be bothered about what people thought of me. Now, I just don’t care! I’m incredibly excited about going to Iceland for The MoonWalk, seeing an incredible country and taking part in the challenge with those who are special to me. I’m thrilled to be celebrating the fact that after ten years, I’m still here.

My message to everyone is just to be vigilant. I was very young and breast cancer was the furthest thing from my mind. Whatever your age, you should check your breasts regularly – I encourage my daughters to check themselves, even the thirteen-year-old. You need to know what your “normal” is, to be able to know when something isn’t right and get it checked out.” 

Emma with Jo wearing MoonWalk Iceland T-shirts

Thank you for sharing your story Emma and we look forward to seeing you and your team at The MoonWalk Iceland!

Sign up and join us for the MoonWalk Iceland 2024 by clicking here


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