Emily Beckloff

Photo credit: Britishette

I am honoured to share Emily Beckloff’s post on her brush with breast cancer. I hope it encourages all to check their breasts more frequently. Thank you Emily for sharing your story-

I woke up on the morning of my daughter’s birthday, just before Christmas, and noticed some changes to my left breast. The blood rushed from my face and my world came crashing down around my ears. Cancer. Please, not today.

I tried to put it out of my mind, but a thick black cloud had swallowed me. My heart and mind were heavy: fear of not coping with what was to come, fear of how I was going to look after everyone and fear of dying without seeing my beautiful young children grow up. I was devastated. I watched my birthday girl twirling and laughing with her friends and I watched her brothers so excited for her on her special day.

All I wanted to do was hold them all so tightly and for everything to be OK. How would I tell them?

My Mum had breast cancer, as did two of her sisters and her Aunt. My Mum was the only one not to survive. I’m classed as ‘high risk’ and have annual mammograms, care of our wonderful NHS. I’ve always said, ‘it’s not a case of IF I get it, but when.’ I kept reminding myself that so many people are absolutely fine, some 20 or 30 years after treatment and are still going strong, but would this be me? To even contemplate ‘The End’ when you have three young children, you’ve just started a new and exciting phase of your life and you feel totally well is literally shattering. The loneliness.

I tucked my kids into bed and looked at them, my heart breaking in two when I realised I might not see them grow that much older than they are now. This was just all wrong.

My mammogram was seven days later, right in the middle of that awful week where so many of our iconic celebrities died, and on the anniversary of my Mum’s death. A few days later I had the dreaded call I’d been expecting: could I come in for an ultrasound and a biopsy on my right breast? My right breast?? I hadn’t been worried about that side! All that worry over Christmas and the New Year and yet they wanted to investigate the other side. I couldn’t decide if this was a good thing or not but take note everyone, not everything we find ourselves is a problem!

Four weeks later, following an ultrasound and two biopsies, I was told I had one ‘benign’ area and one area with ‘Ductal Carcinoma In Situ’ (DCIS), which is non-invasive and actually classified as ‘pre cancer.’ DCIS may or may not turn into invasive cancer but it’s surgically removed just in case. What a relief compared to what I’d been thinking! I needed more scans and more biopsies and the fear of what we might discover at each hospital visit was debilitating.

Now, ten weeks on from that first morning, I’m having a lumpectomy tomorrow (on Mum’s birthday). A third area visible on MRI will also be investigated in more detail, though initial biopsies have shown it to be benign (yay!). If more DCIS is found, I‘ll need to go back and have a mastectomy, which I’m kinda OK with. I’d much rather be over treated than under. I’m obviously hoping the pathology lab report done on what’s removed doesn’t reveal ‘invasive cancer’ but I won’t know for another two weeks. I may need more surgery, radiotherapy or chemo…or nothing!

The most overwhelmingly helpful thing for me has been the support of my wonderful friends. It’s impossible to know how to be for a friend in times like this and all credit to them: they asked me what I need, so I told them! I told them I need positivity, distraction, normality, to listen…. and they’ve done all of that and more. They’ve met me for daily coffees, they’ve looked after my chickenpox ridden child so my husband could be with me at an appointment, they’ve asked me on a daily basis how I’m feeling about things, they’ve unpicked the negative and helped me to turn my mind back round to the positive and they’ve been upbeat and positive. I’m so grateful to them.

There are people facing far more difficult situations and diagnoses than me and I feel a total fraud for getting as overwhelmed as I have at times about this. Listening to my own advice though: ‘a stress is a stress.’ We all react differently and cope in different ways and that really is ok.

This process hasn’t been as bad or invasive on my daily life as I’d feared and after a very rocky few weeks, I’ve actually felt normal and happy much of the time, which is not something I was expecting!

1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime BUT survival is getting better all the time! The more journeys we can read about, the less fear I hope we’ll all feel should we hear the ‘C’ word, or dip into the journey ourselves. The statistics show more positive than negative outcomes and that’s what we must focus on!

*Please check your breasts. Today.

If you have women in your family who have had breast cancer, please go to your GP and ask to be referred for Family Screening. Please do your research on whether or not annual mammograms would be right for you at your age. Please get any breast changes or anything your concerned about checked out, as early diagnosis makes a huge difference!

For more information on DCIS and Breast Cancer:

What Is DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ?

Breast Cancer.Org

Breast Cancer Care

Cancer Research UK

Emily Beckloff works for Father Christmas at the International Elf Service. She’s also a registered Osteopath and a Mum to three young children, including a wonderful little boy who has Down’s Syndrome. Her second post on the ‘power of kindness’ is published on Cuddle Fairy’s blog HERE.

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44 Responses

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    Powerful ultrasound technology can see breast abnormalities that cannot be seen by mammography or by physical exam. Ultrasound sees all the way to the chest wall!

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  4. Babes about Town

    So glad you wrote and shared this post Emily, and was beyond thrilled to learn that your condition was treatable. You’ve been wearing it so well and I absolutely believe your upbeat and even ‘fun loving’ attitude towards what comes has made a huge difference. As you know I’ve experienced some of that fear, not on the same scale but certainly understand a little of the worry you’ve faced and it’s no joke. Thanks for telling us your story and an essential message for all, big hugs lovely xoxo

    • Emily Beckloff

      Thank you so much lovely and I’m so sorry you get struck with the dreaded fear from time to time too – it’s so debilitating. Do you know, I’ve had so many messages from people who are following up on symptoms and missed mammograms as a result of reading this, which is just so amazing and makes writing this so worthwhile. xxx

  5. Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    I can’t imagine what was going through your mind & what still is. I know my first thoughts would be not getting to see my children grow up & them having to grow up without a mother. It’s a heart breaking thought! It’s wonderful that you are sharing your story. I hope it will motivate women to get checks. Best of luck to you xx

    • Emily Beckloff

      Thank you so much Becky and yes that’s one of the worst feelings I can imagine. I’m so lucky to have been part of the early screening programme due to my family history. x

  6. Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods)

    It’s so brave of you to share your story but it’s so important that people do. It helps raise awareness and reminds people that they aren’t invincible. You sound very positive and together and it’s that fight that will help get you through it. Thanks for sharing.


  7. Lindsey

    You’re amazing Emily. The way you handled this all the way through has been inspirational. Especially the way you told your eldest. The positive spin was ingenious. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Morgan Prince

    Thank you for sharing your story, I hope all goes well for you – sending healing wishes. Thanks for reminding me to check myself! 🙂

  9. laura dove

    What a brave and honest post, thank you so much for sharing. I am guilty of neglecting to check my breasts also, just never seems enough time in the day does there? Am off to check them right now and great idea above, set a phone reminder and then there is no excuse! #brilliantblogposts

  10. Ebabee

    Thank you Vicki for sharing this and so brave of you Emily. I am here for you and thinking of you. As you say we all react differently to things and your reaction is absolutely understandable and so ok. Sending you lots of positive vibes xx

  11. Catherine

    Such an important post Emily – and it will do so much to raise awareness. I think you’re amazingly brave xx

  12. Babylists

    Great post, thanks for sharing. Very important for all women to be aware of the signs and for us all to talk about cancer so we know what to look out for and how to support others who are affected by it. #brilliantblogposts

    • Emily Beckloff

      Thank you so much and Mim has just posted a fab blog on the signs of breast cancer and what to look out for over on her blog. Definitely worth a read.

  13. Rach

    Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I have to be honest, I really don’t think you should feel a fraud for feeling overwhelmed at what might happen. I think your reaction was totally and utterly to be expected. Especially given your family history with cancer. My Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and although she’s now OK (aside from a scare at the beginning of 2015) it’s something I think about and reflect on too. I know that I have a greater chance myself of cancer (my Dad was also diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma in 2009 too) and lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to check myself in the shower. This post is such an important reminder to all women to check their breasts on the regular. Also, I’m so pleased you have some great friends around you. You really can’t beat a good support network can you?
    Thank you so much again for sharing this. I really hope it raises awareness. I’m sure it will. #brilliantblogposts

    • Emily Beckloff

      Hi Rach – thank you so much for your wonderfully kind and supportive words. Gosh, it sounds like you’ve been through a lot as a family and no you’re absolutely right – supportive friends and family makes a massive difference to your ability to cope. Thank you and i wish you all long healthy years ahead! x

  14. Mim

    Oh Emily thank you so much for sharing your story and I completely empathise with your feelings throughout of shock, terror, relief, feeling a fraud, all and more. You’re absolutely right about a stress being a stress, so so right x x Mim x x

    • Emily Beckloff

      Thank you Mim and I know you really do know, so that means a lot. I’ve read all your wonderful inspiring posts and I think you’re one amazing lady xxx

  15. Kayla

    Thank you for sharing your story! I am actually making an appointment today to hopefully get my breasts checked next week. #brillblogposts

    • Emily Beckloff

      Hi Kayla, that’s brilliant news and as someone suggested elsewhere in the comments here, how about setting a monthly reminder on your phone to check your breasts too? x

  16. Random Musings

    Thank you for being brave enough to share your story Emily. I really hope everything works out for you. It sounds like you have a fab support network, your friends sound amazing. A good reminder to women everywhere to check themselves regularly. #brillblogposts

    • Emily Beckloff

      Thank you Debbie and yes I’ve been bowled over by the kindness of people around me. Someone told me yesterday of people they know refusing to take up offers of mammograms. That’s how many breast cancers are first detected, so I’d love everyone to take them up!

  17. Nadia - ScandiMummy

    Thank you Vicki for sharing this. And thank you for reminding us to check ourselves, Emily. My mum went through breast cancer, so I have experienced it first hand. But it was caught early enough and she is well and healthy today. #brilliantblogposts

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

  18. Emily Beckloff

    Thank you so much Vicki – I really appreciate you hosting my post and I hope it inspires people to not only check themselves but to not panic if they spot anything. Not everything we find is a problem and not everything is the worst case. xxx

  19. Cardiff Mummy Says - Cathryn

    Thank you for sharing your story and helping to raise awareness. There are several women in my extended family who have battled breast cancer. It’s so important for us to check regularly. Thinking of you and wishing you all the best for your lumpectomy and subsequent treatment. xx

  20. Fatima @ Baby Toddler Me

    This is such an important post. Thank you for the reminder. I have just checked my breasts, and will set a monthly reminder in my calendar to make sure I keep doing it. #BrilliantBlogPosts


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