I was diagnosed with breast cancer

I was diagnosed with breast cancer
in September 2004

at Worthing Hospital in West Sussex.

I found a lump in my left breast,
it was very near my nipple.

It was a fast-growing cancer. Within
one year, I had two very large tumours

that had spread to my lymph nodes and
shown signs of going into my bloodstream

which meant that there was quite
a high chance that the cancer cells

would go to my lungs or my bones,
my brain, my liver,

and I found that quite hard
to deal with.

My consultant said that at that moment,
I had a 40% chance of survival

over five years, which, at the time,
didn't seem so good.

So he suggested
that there was a clinical trial

taking place over a period of years,

needing 3,000 women to test new drugs
for breast cancer,

using drugs that had been widely
available in the Americas,

but were not used here, that could only
be used as part of a clinical trial.

And he felt they were my best chance of
survival, and would lengthen my odds.

I was told about two weeks later

that I'd been accepted
on the full research treatment.

Again at that time I didn't really know
what it meant,

but I was very grateful
that I felt I was getting all the drugs

that would give me
my best chance of survival,

and that under the clinical trial,
I would be looked after,

kept an eye on, I felt safe.

It was explained to me
that the clinical trial

would use the standard drugs at the time
that were available in 2004/2005

for women with early stage breast cancer
in Great Britain.

But also, that the clinical trial, which
was the Tango trial, would also use,

in the later cycles of chemotherapy,

a drug that was freely available in the
Americas but was not available here,

but had shown a great success for women
with early stage breast cancer.

I was actually looking at
12 chemotherapy sessions

because I was on the full treatment,
over a period of six months.

I was frightened about the 12 chemos.

It did seem rather a lot
to contend with.

But, again,
everything was explained to me.

If I felt it was too much for me,
then I could have withdrawn at any time.

I had the best possible treatment,
I know I did.

I was always sure
with the clinical trial

that there was always somebody
at the end of the phone.

Sometimes, if I didn't feel well,
I would ring the oncology nurse.

Sometimes I'd have to ring up the
doctor, and he always had time for me.

I felt that was a really good
safety net.

I would say to anybody,
don't be afraid of a clinical trial,

you've got to weigh it up yourself,
decide what is best for you.

I have been signed off
from the breast cancer care unit.

I was absolutely gobsmacked!

We came out and cracked open a bottle
of champagne. I was absolutely in tears.

It still makes me cry.

Here I am, six years down the line,
and it's OK. And I feel safe.

I found the clinical trial made me feel
safer about the whole thing.

I say give it a go.
If you've been offered one, take it.