Aged 44, I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, rare and aggressive, in January 2008. Within days of diagnosis I was plunged into the scary world of chemotherapy and was told that I must have a mastectomy as soon as possible to give me the best chance of survival. Like many other women, I just did my best to get through this, I lost my hair within a week of starting chemo, my face was bloated from the steroids, I felt like I was dying but I had to believe the treatment would save my life. And it did.
In June I had the mastectomy, I was heartbroken, and thought I would never recover. Everywhere I looked there were women with beautiful breasts, like I used to have. I was devastated.
I was tired, emotional and feeling like I had completely lost my identity when I was nominated for a makeover with Caroline’s Campaign, by Judy at my local Macmillan Centre.
15th July 2008, I remember it well, the day was amazing. I was given a fabulous designer wig, so natural looking, much better than the acrylic one I got from the NHS. My new wig was styled with care by Toni and Guy stylists, and then I had my eyebrows tattooed. Wow! What a difference that made, my face started to look human again. My friend Lindsey came with me to the makeover, and burst into tears at one point and said ‘ Oh Gabby, you look normal again’. Weeping we hugged each other.
I looked normal – how wonderful.
Then I had makeup and false eyelashes applied for me, nails painted, it was lovely to be pampered. After months of hospital appointments and treatments it was great to be treated like a woman, not just a patient.
Caroline‘s team were amazing, they all took such good care of me and the other ladies and it was a very emotional day.
When I returned home my husband could barely recognise me, I was glowing with excitement and I felt so happy. I really began to feel like I was on the road to recovery and could not stop grinning. I demanded to be taken out for cocktails; I looked too good to stay in the house!
We had a great evening, and I knew I had turned a big corner, life after cancer was in front of me, I could feel it now, and it felt great.
Follow me on twitter @gabbymot