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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018
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'At 32, I was told I had breast cancer just seven months after having my first baby'

We’re all familiar with the expression ‘life can change in an instant’, now it makes complete sense, writes Georgie Crawford.

Georgie Crawford Entertainment editor at Spin 103.8

I WAS TOLD I had breast cancer the week I was due to go back to work after seven months of maternity leave. My beautiful baby Pia was born last February and I enjoyed every second of my time with her, we bonded, we sang, we walked.

We didn’t sleep as much as I’d imagined, and I never got around to all that baking I promised myself I would do. Oh, how naive I’d been.

Georgie Jamie and Pia

Prior to finding a lump on my right breast, I’d complained to my husband Jamie that I didn’t feel right, I was very tired, my nails were breaking, and I didn’t quite ‘look’ like myself. I was a little grey, my hair was limp, something was just…off. But I put it down to being a ‘stressed out first time mum’.

Then in the early hours of a cold October morning, I found the lump in my breast. A rock hard, immovable lump. And just like that, I knew everything had changed.

‘I didn’t want to leave my family’

My family tried to stay positive, convince me that it ‘must be something hormonal’. I just had a baby, I can’t have cancer! As I waited to be diagnosed, I spent hours at night staring at the ceiling wondering if my baby would have a mum in a year’s time. Even writing about it, like a reoccurring nightmare, it triggers a sense of panic and sadness inside me that I will never forget.

One evening while waiting on my results, I lay on the floor in my hall and just cried every tear I had. I didn’t want this to be my story, I didn’t want to leave my family, all I wanted was to be with them forever. Those around me tried to pick up the pieces every day. They tried to keep me positive, but I knew deep down I had cancer.

GeorgieJamie and Pia

The cancer was confirmed a few days afterwards, and I waited another hellish week to see if it had spread to my lymph nodes. When I found out it hadn’t and that it was contained to my breast I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. My surgeon spoke about women who go on to lead perfectly healthy lives, he assured me I’d recover but I needed to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

He said it would be a year out of my life. Not the year I had planned, but I am determined to get through it. During that time, a positivity and strength I never knew I had inside me was unleashed. And, if anyone is going to tell you you’ll lose your hair during 22 weeks of chemotherapy, this is the ideal time. Having no hair for a year is a small price to pay for my life and that’s how I got over that hurdle.

Not that it isn’t tough, I cry often now that I am bald, I think it makes it all very real, but I know it’s part of a process I have to go through and another step on the road to recovery.

IMG_2167 Georgie with her Mum

‘I felt like the most unlikely candidate’

As I healed from surgery and had time to reflect, I decided I wanted to tell my story using my Instagram page. I felt like I owed it to young women to tell them there is no breast cancer in my family, that I breast fed, that I felt like I was the most unlikely candidate for it.

To young mums going back to work, take a half an hour at the GP’s office to get checked. Be breast aware, because breast cancer is not just occurring in women over 50. According to Breast Cancer Ireland, of the 2,890 women diagnosed with breast cancer annually, 30% are between the age of 20-50.

Encourage your friends, sisters, colleagues to make their health a priority. There are more young people getting diagnosed and there is not enough awareness within the younger demographics. That’s why I told my family and friends about my mission to shout about this from the rooftops and with their support I am.

Georgie

2018 hasn’t started the way I imagined. It would be easy to feel very hard done by and sometimes I do. I wanted to get back to work, to see my friends, to do the job I love. But for now, my life has taken a very different direction and I’ve accepted that. I’m grateful I’ve been given the time to heal so I can be a happy, healthy mum again. And I will be.

I’m determined to get better, to tell my story and if I can help people along the way, I feel like it will all be worth it.

Georgie Crawford is a 33-year-old mum to one-year-old Pia and entertainment editor at Spin 103.8.

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About the author:

Georgie Crawford  / Entertainment editor at Spin 103.8

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