Mandy's Story

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Mandy's Story

Mandy McFarlane.jpgMy name is Mandy Macfarlane, I’m married to Richy with two children, Chloe who is 21 and Sam who is 7 this month (April) and I’m living and working within Glasgow. 

A few months after Sam was born in 2009 I discovered some lumps at the side of my right breast. I never gave it another thought and despite being at the doctor’s a few times, never mentioned it. I was unaware of hormonal breast cancer or the signs to look out for; I assumed it was because of breast feeding, so it was November time before I eventually remembered!

My doctor agreed with me, that it would be connected to breast feeding, however to be on the safe side, she referred me to the breast clinic. However it wasn’t a blocked milk duct as we had suspected, it was breast cancer and then after the usual tests i.e. MRI, bone scan and CT scan, to check it hadn’t spread, it was more bad news, and it had spread into my lymph nodes and had set up camp in my liver. Until that point I didn’t know what secondary breast cancer was or what it mean to me!!  I soon learned that its incurable and my life expectancy had dramatically been reduced.   

when my treatments ended I didn’t know where to turn
In 2010 I underwent chemo, to reduce the lump, then a mastectomy, reconstruction and a reduction to the other side followed by radiotherapy.   

I felt quite supported by my consultant and breast care nurse at the Western Infirmary throughout my treatments but then when my treatments ended I didn’t know where to turn. 

You would think that I could get on with my life now that treatments had ended, wrong, because now I was left with more time to my thoughts, thoughts of a short life and imminent death and by my first anniversary of diagnosis, December 2010, I wasn’t coping too well. My head had all these dark thoughts and I had no one to speak to. I couldn’t speak to any of my family and friends and let them know my fears. 
It gives me satisfaction to think that I may have made someone's dark day a little bit brighter by giving them the information and support they need.​​

I had never been referred to Macmillan Cancer Support therefore it was through a secondary breast cancer support group through Breast Cancer Care​​ that got me through that dark time and through them I opened the doors to other cancer charities with Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries being one and which I now volunteer with on a regular basis, in particular their drop in service at Partick Library.  It gives me satisfaction to think that I may have made someone's dark day a little bit brighter by giving them the information and support they need. 

I am now actually in a good place but my life is a rollercoaster (ironically that was my husband and I’s first dance at our wedding) with highs and lows because I am all too aware there is no cure and that the cancer will determine how long I live but I have made it my mission to be involved as much as I can with cancer charities as well as the Scottish Health Secretary’s office to look at small ways of trying to detect cancer early and to make other people’s cancer journey smoother than mine was. I had to make my own way and I don’t want others to have to do that. I want them to be more aware that this journey does not have to be a ticket for one; they have support out there waiting for them and help at every step.
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