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Claire during a cycle ride

Sharing my story helps me make sense of it all

After recovering from cancer as a teenager, Claire was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the help of Breast Cancer Now’s services, she regained hope. Claire joined Breast Cancer Voices to make a difference for others.

Tell us about yourself 

When I was 14, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 sarcoma. I went through a radical treatment process, including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After I recovered, I saw myself as a story of hope. I lived a busy but ‘ordinary’ life, working as a teacher, and running up to 3 times a week.  

All things considered, living an ordinary life was pretty spectacular. I thought I’d firmly closed the lid on cancer.

Claire holding up a medal after a race for the Teenage Cancer Trust

Can you tell us about your diagnosis? 

I knew I had an increased risk of breast cancer because I had radiotherapy on my chest when my breasts were still developing. But I unconsciously thought that no one gets unlucky twice. 

I wasn’t regularly checking my breasts. But one day, I noticed nipple discharge and went to my GP. They discovered a lump and immediately referred me to the breast clinic. 

I had painstakingly rebuilt my life after having cancer as a teenager. The diagnosis of grade 3 breast cancer turned my world on its head.

What was your treatment like? 

I had a mastectomy and egg collection, followed by chemotherapy. I’m now on hormone therapy with abemaciclib. 

It's hard to pinpoint the hardest part of my journey. It’s between telling my family that I had cancer, especially my parents, or feeling as though my hopeful story had been shattered. 

What support did you receive? 

From the moment I was diagnosed, I was struck by the kindness of NHS staff. My team made me feel heard, understood, and safe throughout my treatment. I’ll never forget their incredible empathy. 

My sister looked after me, and Chris, my partner, came to every chemo session with me. I talked through fear, anger, grief, and all the emotions with both of them. It might sound cheesy, but we were still able to laugh together. 

Claire with her sister in the hospital during treatment

What was it like to process a second diagnosis? 

I still needed help processing my emotions, and Breast Cancer Now have been brilliant so far. I’ve used the helpline and I took part in Someone Like Me, Younger Women Together, and the Moving Forward course. 

All these services have helped me regain some hope. 

Having breast cancer as a young person comes with hurdles. I questioned whether I should risk having children, and I worried about the impact of medical menopause. But after the support I received, I don’t feel alone anymore. 

Writing has given me a sense of purpose, both as a teen and an adult. Sharing my experience through poems and blogs has helped me make sense of it all. It makes me feel recognised beyond cancer, which feels empowering. 

How are you now? 

A year on, I am back teaching, running, swimming and cycling, and I’m aiming to do a small triathlon for Breast Cancer Now this year. But I can still feel the impact of my treatment. It’s like having an 80-year-old’s head on a 33-year-old’s shoulders. 

Chris is right there with me and we’re planning to get married. Making plans for the future feels scary, but I’ve thrown myself into living my life.

Claire and partner Christ after they got engaged on the beach

Why did you decide to become a Voice? 

Being a voice is a chance to give back. I’m starting by contributing to a video to thank my breast care nurse. 

Taking part in Breast Cancer Voices makes me feel as though I can make a difference. I’m rewriting my story of hope.

Use your voice for positive change

Your unique experience with breast cancer can help improve things for others. By joining our Breast Cancer Voices community, you’ll find out about opportunities to shape our work and take part in the latest research.

Breast Cancer Voices

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