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Radiotherapy & Jo

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We asked Saddleworth-based founder of After Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Jo Taylor, about her experiences of radiotherapy and research.

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I've just had my 50th birthday (yay!) but was diagnosed with primary breast cancer when I was 38 and had a 5 month old baby and 2.5 year old son. Had all the usual treatment, mastectomy surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and was living life when 7 years later was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer and now living with an incurable disease but currently living well. When diagnosed I didn't know if I would see my 50th birthday as secondary breast cancer has a median life expectancy of 2-3 years and I'm now 5 years out.

What is your experience of radiotherapy?
I had radiotherapy on the breast originally 12 years ago then after I was re-diagnosed with secondary breast cancer 5 years ago had neck surgery and radiotherapy there due to the lymph nodes having secondary breast cancer in them and then a year later had then radiotherapy on my left shoulder as I have secondary breast cancer in my humorous bone.

What is your experience of being involved with research?

In the past I've entered a trial but because of the work I do with my website I speak to researchers, get involved with researchers and the work they do and advocate for more research for secondary breast cancer.  I've attended national and European conferences like ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology) which are all about research and clinical trials. 

Why is raising awareness of radiotherapy and research important?

Because radiotherapy can be an excellent tool in helping patients have long term benefits of a disease like cancer and even a cure.  Radiotherapy is getting more and more precise without the side effects or long term side effects there used to be.

What difference has sharing your story made or would you like it to make?

That people understand about dealing with cancer or a long term illness, implications and the lasting effects it can have.  Awareness is a good thing and it makes people who also have the same disease feel that they are not "alone". 

Follow Jo on Twitter @abcdiagnosis and check out her ABC Diagnosis website.