Kate takes part in The MoonWalk Scotland just months after breast cancer treatment

Although breast cancer runs in my family, my own diagnosis still came as a shock.

Kate (third from left) with MoonWalk teammates Laura, Lisa, Claire, Cat and Chiara

“Breast cancer runs in my family, but my own diagnosis at the age of 48 last August still came as a huge shock. I’ve now signed up to take on the Full Moon (26.2 miles) at this year’s MoonWalk Scotland, as a way of giving something back.

My Dad is one of seven children, two of whom have been diagnosed with breast cancer previously, including one of his brothers. As a result, Dad and all but one of his siblings were tested for the altered BRCA gene – if you’re a carrier, it means that both women and men have an increased chance of developing breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Dad was the only sibling from the seven who came back negative for BRCA – all the others were positive. Following those test results, one of Dad’s sisters and one brother had preventative double mastectomies and reconstructive surgery. However, because Dad didn’t have the BRCA gene, my sister and I weren’t tested at the time and until last year, I’d never had any further testing myself, or a routine mammogram on the NHS, because I was still too young.

I was showering one day last August when I felt a lump on my right breast and I also noticed some dimpling on the skin. At the time, I didn’t really know whether my breast felt different because of my age, or whether something was actually amiss. I saw my GP about ten days later and was referred to the breast clinic at the Western General Hospital. The consultant I saw couldn’t feel anything at all in my breast, but sent me for a full range of tests anyway – including two mammograms and an ultrasound. It was the ultrasound which finally picked up the lump and I then had a biopsy. My diagnosis was confirmed a week later – triple-positive breast cancer.

Despite my family history, being told that I had breast cancer myself was still very upsetting. On the positive side, I’m so thankful that I’ve been diagnosed now, rather than in the past, with all the advances in research, technology and treatment over last 30 to 40 years. We now have the ability to test and treat so many more serious illnesses than ever before in the history of mankind. My story could have been very different if I’d lived in a different era.

I had all the treatment I possibly could – firstly chemotherapy to shrink my tumour and then surgery at the end of January this year to remove it. Along with what remained of the tumour, they took away quite a bit of tissue from my right breast, so as part of the surgery, I also had a breast reduction on the other side, to even up my breasts. I jokingly say that I’ve had a boob job on the NHS. Ironically, I’ve always said that I wanted smaller breasts! As a further preventative measure, I then had nine sessions of radiotherapy, which finished in mid-April. I’ll be taking the hormone therapy letrozole for the foreseeable future as well as having another jab which I get in my thigh every three weeks. I’ve now been tested for the faulty BRCA gene, and as we suspected, I came back negative. 

It's been a very challenging time since my diagnosis and like most people, I’ve had ups and downs, particularly during chemotherapy, when I suffered from hair loss, nerve damage in my hands and also a sore mouth. Throughout it all, I just tried to keep my head down, get on with it and do as I was told! People told me that I was being brave, but I don’t believe that was true. My partner Selena (who works in the care industry herself) was amazingly supportive throughout, helping to organise all my medication.

Kate (right), with partner Selena

I’ve worked for the NHS myself for the last twenty or so years and have been so impressed with the incredible care I’ve received at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh since my diagnosis.  I absolutely cannot fault them and have nothing but praise for all those involved with my treatment. It’s daunting being on the “other side” as a patient, but my experience has been fantastic. I work at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh – my colleagues are now telling me not to get any ideas about going over to work at The Western. I tell them not to worry – I love my job at the Royal!

I’ve signed up to take on the Full Moon (26.2 miles) at The MoonWalk Scotland this September with some of my work colleagues - as a group of friends, my diagnosis has brought us even closer together. As The MoonWalk Scotland isn’t until later in the year, it’s perfect timing, as I will have recovered fully from all my active cancer treatment by then. Selena’s family has been really affected by breast cancer too, as she lost an aunt and two cousins to the disease. Some of her relatives have volunteered at The MoonWalk for many years, so I knew all about this iconic event, but this will be my very first time taking part and I’m very excited!

I’ve done other charity events previously, but after my breast cancer diagnosis, I decided that I needed a bigger challenge and that’s where The MoonWalk comes in! The camaraderie on the night will be absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to raise lots of money, as a way of giving something back for all the wonderful care I’ve received.”

Kate (centre) with MoonWalk teammates Lisa and Laura

Thank you for sharing your story Kate and we look forward to seeing you and your team at The MoonWalk Scotland 2024!


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