Madison was diagnosed with cancer shortly after her 22nd birthday. Today she is cancer-free. Madison and CLIC Sargent have shared her story with us, and we’d love for you to read some of it.
“When I found a lump in my breast and had some pain under my left armpit, I visited my GP and he referred me to the breast clinic where I had an ultrasound and mammogram, then a biopsy. I had to wait two weeks for the results, which was awful.”
Madison was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and had to start treatment right away.
“When they said I’d need my left breast taken off I was really upset. But then I thought to myself, well I’d rather stick around than have my breast. Two weeks later I had a mastectomy and all my lymph nodes were removed.”
The British cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, soon began playing an important role in Madison’s journey to recovery. Madison’s CLIC Sargent Support Worker, Rebecca Williams (Bex), was an enormous help, offering emotional and practical support. Bex arranged a free wig for her when Madison lost her hair due to the treatment. “I was worried about getting a real hair wig, they are expensive. But my CLIC Sargent Support Worker Bex was great. She arranged a free one through the Little Princess Trust.”
“I was three stone overweight, bald, and my breast had gone.”
Bex helped her with finances as well, since Madison had to stop working, and she introduced her to the Young Person’s Reference Group (YPRG), a group that meets regularly to advise CLIC Sargent how to run the charity. There, Madison met loads of other young people who had or have had cancer. “My friends at home are great. But only your cancer friends really get what you are going through. Weight gain is definitely a big issue for a lot of us. And getting back to ‘normal’ life and fitness after treatment isn’t as easy as people think.” Madison is still a member of YPRG.
Keeping up Appearances
Even though the treatment was extremely challenging for Madison, she made sure to keep up appearances on social media.
“I had a tough time during treatment. Not that you’d know it if you looked at my Facebook page. I was always posting pictures of myself on the rare good weeks, in full make-up with my wig on, out climbing or horse-riding.”
Especially Madison’s weight became an issue for her.
“His family has been affected by breast cancer, and he wanted to help me because of that”
“I put three stone on during treatment. The steroids just make you want to eat and eat, l was massive. After I finished treatment in January 2016 everyone was celebrating me beating cancer. But I remember looking in the mirror and I was three stone overweight, bald, and my breast had gone.“
Once again, Madison’s relationship with Bex was a huge help.
“I stayed positive though and did my best to get back to the gym, and Bex from CLIC Sargent arranged a grant so I could buy some new gym clothes, as I couldn’t fit back in my old ones due to the weight gain. But it was so hard and the weight wasn’t shifting.“
Getting back in shape
When she needed it the most, one of Madison’s Facebook connections, Simon, got in touch with her. He owns a local fitness centre and was able to provide the perfect conditions for Madison. “He offered to help me with my fitness. His family has been affected by breast cancer, and he wanted to help me because of that, and I jumped at the chance.”
“With his support, I started to lose the weight and get much stronger. I made other friends at the gym too, and felt accepted and comfortable there, even though I was a bit bigger.”
“It isn’t a walk in the park after cancer”
The support from Simon and Bex was crucial for the recovery of Madison’s self-esteem.
“Before Simon, I had loads of support from everyone but I lost a lot of body confidence and fitness and he helped in that way. The support from CLIC Sargent kept me going too”.
“But how somebody looks isn’t the point. It isn’t a walk in the park after cancer and I’m sharing my story to help people understand the issues facing young people with cancer more.”
Madison is cancer-free today. She has had reconstructive surgery on the breast that was removed, but there’s still a long way to go for her.
“Slowly now, every step I am making now is building me back up. But I do worry it will come back. I want my other breast removed as I’m at high risk of it returning.”
Madison is privileged to have such a supportive charity worker as Bex available. “(…)people don’t understand what I’ve been through to get to this point, and how much support I needed from my family, friends, Simon, and charities like CLIC Sargent to get here.“
Thank you, Madison, for sharing your story with us. Go visit CLIC Sargent’s website to learn about their important work.