“I was 45 when I found a peppercorn-sized lump in my right breast, just on the bra line at the bottom. I thought nothing of it and (always glass half full!) was convinced it was nothing.
It was found to be grade-three aggressive, and I had to have six rounds of chemotherapy in Shrewsbury between 2015 and 2016. Alongside that I elected to go to Stoke for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. The surgeon there was incredible and really changed my life, it all went really well. It’s so important to have trust in the medical team and nurses and I was able to live a full life afterwards because of the trust and compassion of the team in Shrewsbury and Stoke.
From that point I had regular check-ups.”
Her cancer diagnosis led her to access counselling services within the Police force and Catherine went on to join the national Police Wellbeing programme, delivering talks about vulnerability, resilience, and understanding.
“That side of my work is very important to me, helping others. I’m very passionate about compassion in dealing with other people – whoever they are.
“I was completely floored when they found my cancer, and in shock, I didn’t know if I would live, or what would happen. It was really difficult, my husband, daughters, parents, friends and colleagues got me through -. It’s not one person that makes a difference it’s a team. I have a lot of experience to draw on and help others now, I want to do what I can to share my knowledge and would like to launch a podcast.
“Everyone around me has been affected by my cancer diagnosis, my parents too, the whole team, it’s not just happened to me.”
“I thought it couldn’t be anything, but it was. When they did my mastectomy there was no visible breast tissue left, but there must have been something left – so small not even visible to the eye – because my type of cancer is not hormonal. After years it was incredibly rare for this to happen.
“I didn’t know what I had left to give it this time, I had given everything I had to give last time, to beat it. BUT….I’m a very resilient and have with my team – we have had a successful outcome.
“My daughters were more aware this time of what I was going through (age 16 and 18 when I was diagnosed a second time) And my husband also had cancer himself, having been diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. He had chemotherapy at the LD Cancer Centre for Hodgkins Lymphoma. The girls have had a lot to deal with but have dealt with it well and I am very proud of them – I couldn’t have got through this year without them.
“This time around cancer has become so big in my life and has really affected me. I believe it’s a message to help others and support them. I have been given this strength to do something. I want to share my experiences and help others.”
Catherine is going back into the police for now but her focus for helping others is even greater.