Jacqui's e-book, ‘Cancer is a T**t’, documents her breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery in an honest and humorous way. She shares intimate details on how the disease has affected her life and her mental wellbeing.
Jacqui is donating £1 from the sale of each book to us. We supported the families of her close friends Emma Allen and Julia Mason following their recent deaths.
Shell-shockedJacqui was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma in Situ (DCIS) - a form of breast cancer - following a routine mammogram just before her 50th birthday last year. DCIS is the earliest possible form of breast cancer. Although it requires treatment, it isn’t normally life-threatening. Jacqui’s mammogram, though, had shown calcifications which had become cancerous and the disease had spread to her lymph nodes. “I just felt shell-shocked; completely numb. The hardest thing for me, though, was telling those closest to me that I had cancer.
“It was particularly tough because both Emma and Julia were really poorly with cancer. All three of us were receiving treatment at the same time. Cancer just seemed to be everywhere; even my dog, Sonny, was diagnosed with cancer whilst I was receiving treatment.”
Nothing prepares you for that first time you see your own bodyJacqui had surgery to remove her left breast. "Although I had looked at pictures online and seen friends post-surgery, nothing quite prepares you for that first time you see your own body.
“I was surprised at how neat the scar was but actually touching the area – I had to apply cream to the area – is a whole different ball game. The area around your breast, your armpit and top of your arm is completely numb. It’s a strange sensation.”
There were several more battles with her body – and her mental wellbeing – before Jacqui was eventually given good news from her oncologist. Her results meant she had just a 16% recurrence rate if she endured radiotherapy and took the cancer drug Tamoxifen.
“It felt good to get the news but, once the treatment started, it felt like I was reliving the last few weeks,” said Jacqui, “Mentally it was exhausting.
“Some days I would just be so angry with the world. I’d wonder ‘why me?’ Other days, I felt like a warrior; I would look at my physical scar which would serve as a reminder of what I had been through."
Treetops were a great support for them“It wasn’t all the cancer, though. Both Julia and Emma were very ill and Treetops were a great support for them at this time.
"They also supported their families after their death – both Emma and Julia left behind young children. That’s why I decided to donate £1 from the sale of each book to the counselling service which helped them so much.”
Jacqui, who has recently completed mental first aid training and has ambitions of becoming a counsellor, says that documenting her cancer journey in a book has been therapeutic. “It had never occurred to me to keep a memoir. I hadn’t felt comfortable talking about it until quite recently. I had so much going on at the time - but I’m so glad that I now have the book to look back on. Hopefully this will raise lots of money for a really good cause.”