“My Voice” by Diane Martin

Diane Martin - 'Survivor'


My Nan and Granddad Christmas had three sets of twins, with my mother being a twin, she met my father who was also a twin they had me and my twin sister Kathy. Within my mother’s family aunties, uncles and cousins there has been 7 types of cancer breast cancer twice, leukemia, bone, brain, muscle, lung cancer twice and stomach, with 8 sadly dead and me and two cousins in remission. My father’s twin sister had breast cancer, and of course I, myself having had breast cancer.

I have had a genetic blood test for BRACA 1 and BRACA 2,but it was clear, that was three years ago they said it would be repeated in three years, so I’m waiting to be called now.

It was June 1996 I was 46 years old,  after weeks of trying to get my doctor agree to a mammogram, he finally  said yes, and I  went to have my large breasts  squashed on the plates in mammography, but unbeknown to me that day  those 20 minutes would save my precious life.

Within 48 hours my consultant had rang, to say they had discovered a lump, and told me to go to clinic on the following Tuesday. He asked me to go in and have lumpectomy.

We had to return to the hospital to get the results. Relieved, we were given the all clear he said there was no cancer. The following week I was asked to return to the ward, they wanted to remove lymph nodes to make sure there was nothing running around. I thought this to be a little odd, as we had been given the all clear.

Arriving in the ward my consultant then gave me the devastating news they had removed cancer, “NO” I said.  “You told us it was clear”, so now all alone, shocked, scared  and worried how to tell Ricky and my family, my devastating news. Why had they got it so wrong? When the family arrived, their tears did flow, but mine did not. I don’t know why. I lay in that hospital bed that night and said to myself, I have a special husband, I have three beautiful children and my grandchildren. I am not going to leave them just yet; I could not bear to look down from heaven watching my family breaking their hearts,  I will beat this. I will smile. I will laugh and that’s what I did. I had 8 weeks of radiotherapy, which I had a very bad reaction with; it burnt the skin badly. I finished the course on 6th December 1996.

I decided in 2008 to have a double mastectomy. I am not sure I made the correct decision, as I won’t let my husband see me. I do not feel like a woman anymore and sometimes I think it’s ugly , but I’m a survivor and I will beat this.

From then on, all I have lived with is scare after scare, as most of us do, and sadly I am now on that journey once again.

I have been told by my consultant, that I have C.A.R.  It is Cancer Associated Retinopathy, antibodies, through the cancer treatment, it has damaged the rods and cones behind the eye, so I have lost the vision in my right eye and it is now showing that there are signs in my left eye too, so I could lose the vision in the left eye as well. My hobby is photography, so I am devastated. I have had a CT scan to see if there is a small cell lung tumour, I am waiting for the result; I have also got to see an oncologist.

This time round I have had many tears, I am so sad, scared and very angry with God. Why me again and why take my eyes away, what have I done to deserve this? But I am a survivor and I will achieve my dream. I am organising an Awareness Calendar, its aim to raise awareness in young adults about Breast and Testicular Cancer, because you see I do believe early detection saves lives it did mine ,and if my calendar saves just one life I have achieved my dream.

So now once again I am putting myself into my charity, The Peacock Butterfly Appeal and I will finish my photos for my calendar. Yes, I am a Cancer Survivor, and you can be too always checked your breasts once a month girls and you guys too. And guys, check your testicles it could save your life.

Diane Martin
Cambridgeshire England