Not all women choose the same route to recovery. Unlike me, Michele Qualtrough
, aged 55 and a hospital teacher, diagnosed in 2003, has decided against reconstructive surgery. She said:
'I had six months of chemotherapy before a mastectomy then more chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For me, the focus was on getting back to work, and having looked into it in detail I decided further surgery was not something I wanted.'
'I manage well with a prosthesis, running marathons for Cancer Research UK and have no problems with body image. My husband of 34 years has been very supportive, although I know some women have seen breast cancer have a negative impact on their marriage. I met so many great people through having breast cancer and I just want to seize the day. To highlight how important a positive body image is to me I even felt able to do a nude photo shoot for Prima magazine.'
For Michele, having a supportive husband has made her decision straightforward. It is not a situation all partners find easy to cope with and relationships can be strained. For single women the process may be difficult, especially when looking to start a new relationship.
In these situations it is useful to share feelings with others who have faced similar dilemmas. Find an internet forum you feel comfortable with, or approach your breast care nurse to be put in touch with others going through the same experience.