Late last year, Katie Barson received the shocking news that her breast cancer had returned. When she received the news that her breast cancer had spread throughout her body and that she might not have much time left to live due to the incurable disease, she said, He made what he called “the most difficult decision ever.” ‘.
The 36-year-old single mother told the medical team that she did not want any further treatment.
Katie, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, was first diagnosed with the progressive, hard-to-treat disease in March 2020 and suffered surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which causes an extremely rare immune system reaction.
But despite the pain of a red skin rash, muscle weakness and swelling all over her body, it worked, and in December 2021 Katie, a surgical assistant at a GP practice, was told she was cancer-free. .
At the time, he shared intimate details of his ordeal on his Instagram account, writing: “It’s been a roller coaster of emotions.” I went from relief to ecstasy to crying to fear to anger to anxiety to worry to guilt. For actually managing to make it this far when so many people don’t.
“But for now, it’s as if the heaviest burden in the world has been lifted.”
Late last year, Katie Barson received the shocking news that her breast cancer had returned. When she received the news that her breast cancer had spread throughout her body and that she might not have much time left to live due to the incurable disease, she said, He made what he called “the most difficult decision ever.” ‘
Relief: Katie Barson, 36, who beat cancer in 2021, receives a hug from her daughter Freya.
Shared issue: Katie found relief in documenting her ordeal on social media
But that sense of relief didn’t last long. After feeling pain in his shoulder and chest last September, tests revealed the cancer had returned. There was no cure and few treatment options.
Then, in November 2022, she made the surprising choice to “live my life without the side effects of the chemotherapy that crippled me last time.”
Instead, she focused on “making memories” with her 13-year-old daughter, Freya, and spent her remaining time doing things she had always wanted to do.
Treasured moments in the year since have included “a billion adventures” with Freya, going ice skating on a trip to Disneyland Paris over Christmas, and fulfilling a skydiving ambition. “I was smiling the whole time. From the time I left the ground until I landed, everything was incredible,” Katie said.
She also completed a grueling charity mud run just weeks after suffering a collapsed lung, a complication of her rapidly progressing cancer.
“I did it because I didn’t want to disappoint my sponsors,” she said. “I have never been more proud of myself. Yes, I walked, but as I always do in life, I took on every obstacle. Freya and seven of my friends and family It was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had with everyone involved.”
Katie told the Mail on Sunday last week, before entering hospice care as she neared the end of her life.
“Freya used to say to me, “You don’t look like my mom, you don’t smell like her.” I didn’t want it to be.
“When you get a diagnosis, you feel like you have to do what you’re told. But you’re going to know what’s right for your family, and I’m confident that this is the right decision. I did.
“I wanted to live while I was healthy, but I knew that treatment wouldn’t give me the quality of life to do anything with my daughter.”
Big deal: Katie (left) smiles alongside friends after a muddy charity run earlier this year
Katie’s story is just one of many inspiring accounts featured in charity Breast Cancer Now’s new YouTube movie. Entitled “Secondary Stories,” its aim is to shed light on secondary breast cancer, a disease that has become widespread and incurable.
There are an estimated 61,000 people with secondary breast cancer in the UK, resulting in approximately 11,500 deaths each year. In 5% of women, the cancer has spread by the time it is diagnosed.
Treatment can slow progression, but ultimately cannot stop the progression of the disease.
Focusing on secondary breast cancer is something Katie is passionate about. Referring to the overall positive picture for treatment, that for all forms of breast cancer, she noted that 85 percent of women now survive the disease for more than five years, and she said: . “Breast cancer is often referred to as a “good cancer.” But it’s not good to be cancer-free, right? ”
Katie has triple-negative breast cancer, which accounts for 15% of cases. These cancers don’t respond to standard hormonal cancer treatments, and in her case, newer immunotherapy drugs also didn’t work.
She was strong enough to not only accomplish her bucket list but also plan for the future.
“I wrote cards with important dates and important things in Freya’s life,” Katie explained. “Her 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays, passing her driving test, passing her exam, going to college, going home for the first time, having her first baby. , that we got engaged, on our wedding day, I can’t give her the words ‘I’ll leave for her’ myself.
“Planning my own funeral was tough, but it was also healing. It meant I took the pressure off my family.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to know that the first funeral Freya will attend is that of her mother. There is no way she can manage the church service and subsequent burial, so I requested cremation. I did. A long day is too much.”
Furthermore, she added: “And I thought, I don’t want my ashes sitting on my mantelpiece for the next 30 years.
“So I decided to put them inside the fireworks so they would go off and Freya would know I was in the sky no matter where I was in the world.”
“I don’t want her to feel tied to one place because that’s where I am or because I have to take care of the gravestones.
“She can travel all over the world because I’ll be wherever she wants.” There are fireworks everywhere, and I want her to look at the fireworks and think of her mom.
“I can’t cry when I look at the sky. It’s beautiful.”
The film also stars Jacqueline Tolfrey, 57, a mother of four from Gloucestershire.
Katie’s story is just one of many inspiring accounts featured in a new YouTube movie by charity Breast Cancer Now (pictured: A glamorous jacket that sums up her feelings) Katie wearing
The moment she was told that her breast cancer had returned and was incurable, she said: “I remember sitting in the car, my hands on the steering wheel, screaming.” I was filled with anger and frustration.
“I didn’t want to hurt people and I didn’t want to say how I felt. I thought, ‘I’m going to pull over and scream.’ It felt wonderful. ”
Jacqueline’s mother and grandmother had both suffered from breast cancer and had been successfully treated, so the news that she was terminal was a huge shock.
“It was like horror. I felt like I wasn’t in my body. The oncologist wasn’t telling me, he was telling someone else. Sometimes I’d get so scared that I’d lie in bed. Sometimes I have to hold my husband’s hand inside, and when I wake up, I’m overwhelmed and I need reassurance.”
Still, Jacqueline defiantly added: “I plan to live my life to the fullest that I can and embrace every opportunity that comes my way.”
She wrote and directed a play called The Glass Cage about her experience with breast cancer, which she said helped her “express my feelings, emotions and thoughts.”
“The reason for that name was because I felt exposed and trapped with nowhere to hide.” It was about my primary breast cancer. It was performed for two nights at a local arts center and sold out.
She also writes short stories about loss.
She added: “Life is so precious and I had to get to this stage to realize that, so it’s a shame that I didn’t think much about my health until now.” .
Ruth Worden, 55, from West Yorkshire, also stars in the Breast Cancer Now film. She has lobular breast cancer, which can be difficult to detect because it doesn’t always form a hard lump.
In fact, Ruth was healthy, active, and busy, and had no idea she was sick until she had a routine mammogram at age 50. She then underwent a mastectomy for primary breast cancer, but scans soon revealed that the cancer had spread to her spine and liver. And bones.
Ruth described the day she found out: “I had to get out of there.” [the hospital] before it collapses.
“It was pouring rain. I cried all the way home and told my husband, sons and the rest of my family about it. It’s really terrible. Even though I thought my life had been taken away… , it happens in an instant.”
Ruth’s husband and sons, aged 20 and 25, have supported her through treatment, but the cancer has now spread to her brain and she is unable to drive. She added, “I live with it, but I don’t want it to define me.” She wants to run and be more active, but her energy is limited, so she doesn’t know how to use it. You need to choose carefully how to use it. Therefore, you need rest after a busy day.
“It’s about learning to accept and live with what’s happening, rather than blaming it. There’s no big hill to climb, but Mum Tall or Glastonbury Tall are just as good.”
Rachel Franklin, director of fundraising, communications and engagement at Breast Cancer Now, said: “There are thousands of women living with secondary breast cancer in the UK, but their stories are often overlooked. ” he said.
“The experiences that Katie, Jacqueline, Ruth and others share in this film highlight the reality of living with secondary breast cancer and the research that is being done to give people with this devastating disease more time with their loved ones. It gives us deep insight into how important it is.”
The charity has pumped £5 million into research into secondary breast cancer, as well as funding research into other types of breast cancer. But it says more cash is needed to meet its goal of ensuring everyone diagnosed with breast cancer survives and has the support to do so by 2050.