HumansofWMP: Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Linda Billingham, Force Contact handler.
“I had just accepted a job offer from West Midlands Police and was waiting for my start date when I found out I had breast cancer. It meant that I couldn’t start my new job but the force held the position for me until after treatment.
“I noticed that I had some dimpling on my breast which I initially thought was cellulite but when I went to my doctor I was referred to the breast care nurse and consultant. After further tests I was diagnosed with stage two lobular cancer.
“I was with my partner when I was told. To be honest I was in shock, but was more concerned how I would break the news to my parents. I stayed positive and told myself that I would be ok and would get through the treatment - to me, it was all about mind over matter.
“I had a mastectomy in September 2008, followed by six cycles of chemotherapy and 15 sessions of radiotherapy which finished in June 2009.
“When I was given the all clear, I had mixed feelings. I was grateful and relieved, but then I also had a sudden panic. I felt a bit lost and scared as I felt my safety net of support had gone, but I was reassured by everyone concerned that they were are only a call away .
“In 2011 I had my first breast re-construction surgery, but it wasn’t successful. So I had to have more surgery, which involved having operations every four months. WMP was very understanding and supported me throughout, even though the process took four years to complete.
“Since my treatment I have developed a condition called Lymphedema. This is something that causes swelling to the affected area, in my case this is my left arm and hand.
“I was asked to be a breast cancer buddy at work. I feel it’s really important that there is peer support for people who are going through or who are caring for someone who is going through cancer treatment.
“My outlook for the future is to continue working, so I can enjoy my holidays and make lots of memories. And I am looking forward to the future and a long, healthy life."