Getting a cancer diagnosis forced me to prioritise myself for the first time

Jacqueline Carson sitting outside at a wooden table, with a clipboard in front of her, wearing a black blazer, smiling at the camera.

I never thought my addictions could increase my risk of breast cancer (Picture: Mandy Charlton)

I remember sitting in one of those high backed chairs, the ones with the plasticky feel. Easy for wiping spillages, I suppose.

I was bolt upright with my eyes closed and trying to focus on what was being said to me.

‘Become aware of the clock ticking… imagine a feather floating down….’, but at the same time I was aware of the nurses chatting and laughing outside in the corridor; I could hear the clanking of the trollies carrying the chemotherapy drugs and the swoosh of the fire doors as they swung back and forth.

This was my first hypnotherapy session provided to me by my hospital trust to aid my treatment for breast cancer.

Little did I know it was about to change my life – for good!

For as long as I can remember, I was always one of those people who was constantly busy. 

I always had something on, be it with work or family.

For more than 20 years, I’d been a social worker, working in child protection. Often I’d be working late into the night and weekend, spending weeks away from my husband and two children.

Work took priority; there was never any time left for anything else.

Looking back, the scales were certainly tipped in the wrong direction and this contributed to the breakdown of my marriage. 

To deal with the stress, I was smoking and drinking heavily – probably self-medicating, wrongly thinking it was relaxing me.

When I look back now, I can see that, for years, there wasn’t much fun in my life.

I realised I was on my own, thinking I was going to die (Picture: Pippa Jeffrey)

Then, in April 2014, aged 48, I found a hard, pea-sized lump in my left breast. After a mammogram, I was told that I had stage three breast cancer.

My whole world stopped.

Up until this point, I’d been drinking at least a bottle of red wine every night and smoking around 30 cigarettes a day. I knew this wasn’t healthy, but I never thought my addictions could increase my risk of breast cancer.

In fact, I regarded myself as quite healthy, otherwise. I ate well, exercised and was slim – but had bad habits, which likely only exacerbated my ill health.

Although I’d had a couple of relationships since my marriage broke down, they were short-lived and nothing serious. Certainly at this time, I had no partner I could rely on, I was alone.

I had no practical or emotional support. My mother died when I was young, and I was still grieving after my father died unexpectedly six months earlier. Suddenly I felt very vulnerable and afraid.

I realised I was on my own, thinking I was going to die. 

I was worried for my children in case I did die, and how they’d cope emotionally with me being ill. My daughter was only 19, and I was supporting …read more

Source:: Metro


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