Mette's Story

Mette's Story

We reached out to Mette, one of our fellow businesswomen, who, like our founder Caroline, refused to let her breast cancer diagnosis stop her from chasing her dreams or running her own wedding boutique. Read about Mette's breast cancer journey, the importance of embracing the new life situation, and creating cancer-free spaces below.

I have just had my 5-year all-clear from breast cancer, and I feel grateful every single day.

Back to May 12, 2016. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had been out for a run. It was my late dad's birthday, and May is my favourite time of year. I enjoyed the sunshine and thought about my dad. I was so happy and smiled about the jokes my dad and I had played on each other. I felt such a close connection to him. I came home, took a shower, and noticed a lump in my right breast.

Fast forward to about six weeks later. A diagnosis of breast cancer. I was devastated. We have a lot of cancer in my family. My sister had been told years earlier she had a small, low-risk cancer tumour. She was dead eight months later. I was worried my story was a repeat; I really struggled. I am also self-employed and run my own business, and I know if I had to take extended time off, my business would be at risk. I felt sad for my dedicated staff, who had worked for me for years, and for the business and reputation I had built up over the years.

So, what I did was carry on working, carry on running, and go to the gym. It was hard going, but I am sure it carried me through. I barely told anyone about my diagnosis, and I decided my work was my cancer-free space. I tried to not think of it while at work. I have always loved being active. Physical exercise and spending time outside were so good for my soul, and I generally felt better after moving. During runs and walks, I kept in touch with a small group of friends.

My husband was competing in sports at a high level, which meant he was away most weekends. Many people tried to help by saying things like, "You must tell your husband to stay at home." For me, it worked well to keep most things as much the same as they always were. I was used to him travelling, and I felt guilty for my husband. We couldn’t travel and do fun stuff together. And I felt even more guilty if he had to end his tournament early to take care of me. Most weekends I slept almost straight through, so I had no reason to ask him to stay at home with me, and it gave me fewer obligations. So he carried on too and finished the season on the podium.

Many people busied themselves telling me, "You must come to accept that your life will change forever; you may not ever work full time again, etc." It made me really angry. I wanted to deal with it in my own way. I know it was well meant, but I had to get to that realisation in my own time and in my own way.

Now time has passed. I am so grateful every single day that I have the opportunity to be fit and healthy and look back at what happened.

Back then, I was in denial; I didn’t want my life to change. But guess what? It has changed, and it has changed for the better.

I don’t know if it was after all the chemo, the radio, or surgery. Perhaps it was just how I felt, like a kind of post-traumatic stress, or perhaps it was the very intense menopause I had to go through to stop oestrogen in my body. Perhaps it was a combination of them all. But a few years after the all-clear, I felt really down, and I felt I had lost myself.

About 2.5 years ago, I started a new journey in my life. I have changed my diet, almost cut out alcohol, reduced my working hours, cut down on stress, spent a lot of time alone journaling, meditating, swimming in the sea, and taken courses in mindfulness and positive psychology. I have invited new people into my life and ditched others who brought toxic fumes.

Before my cancer diagnosis, if anyone had told me this would happen, I would have laughed out loud, as I thought my life was perfect as it was and I had no room for mindfulness. All I wanted was full speed and high performance. Today my life is so much calmer; I feel better, happier, grounded, and true to myself.

I have changed my anger about my diagnosis to gratitude for the opportunity to turn my life around and concentrate on what really matters much more than a busy diary.



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