• Keeley Buckley

My detour on the path of life...

My name is Keeley and I live with my lovely husband on the edge of the beautiful Peak District. I’m an outdoor and active person who loves walking, yoga, travelling, crafting and cooking.

My breast cancer journey started 3 weeks before an epically planned 6-week adventure to New Zealand in January 2019.

It was to be the trip of a lifetime celebrating our 50th birthdays and our 1st wedding anniversary (we finally got around to tying the knot after 16 years together!). I inadvertently found my breast cancer during my monthly check. Upon further investigation, the small pea-sized lump that I found turned out to be just a cyst but thankfully (and yes, I am thankful) the various tests that I had at the hospital uncovered something a bit more sinister.

Everything happened so quickly – I was desperate to know the situation as I still hoped to go to New Zealand (forever Mrs Positive!). My first appointment at the hospital was at the “one-stop breast clinic”…. I still find the name of that funny today! There I had a mammogram, ultrasound and a biopsy. Unbelievably only the biopsy came back with something that needed further investigation.

“D” for diagnosis day was actually OK – I think I had prepared myself for the worst anyway and as someone who is always super positive and very structured (I’m an accountant) I just thought “OK, it is what it is, let’s do this!”. My husband on the other hand, was completely different and immediately thought of all the negatives. I guess it’s easier to go through something like this yourself rather than watch a loved one go through it.

An MRI scan and an additional biopsy later confirmed the size and type of cancer which would lead to discussions with my consultant on my treatment plan. It was to be a mastectomy (due to the size) and immediate reconstruction. My head was a whirlwind when it came to the various types of reconstruction, but I was delighted when my surgeon said I didn’t have enough tummy tissue for a DIEP (every cloud and all that!). He recommended an LD flap reconstruction (where they take muscle from your back) along with an implant. I decided I needed to research it to death before deciding.

Ahead of my main surgery, I went into hospital for a sentinel lymph node biopsy – thankfully that was clear and there had been no spread to the lymph nodes. A couple of weeks later and I was sat in my hospital room with no make-up, no nail varnish (my toenails hadn’t seen the light of day for over 30 years!!), compression socks and the hospital gown….. surprisingly, my blood pressure was lower than when I had my pre-op. I guess I was happy that my treatment was starting. I was totally relaxed and especially more so when the anaesthetist not only turned out to be hilariously funny but also somewhat easy on the eye!!

I felt surprisingly good post my surgery and was fortunate enough not to experience any pain whatsoever. The 3 drains that I had were the most inconvenient part but having done a load of research beforehand, I’d bought a couple of long handled tote type drain bags – they were life-savers as bo