‘My cancer journey through lockdown’

Tracey pictured undergoing her treatment for breast cancer before lockdown kicked in.

In June 2019, TRACEY WEST was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started chemotherapy just as coronavirus was hitting the UK – and her treatment was stopped. She went on to have radiotherapy and, with treatment finished, has now gone on to relaunch her Stratford coaching business, Purple Hat Coaching, to focus on dealing with the aftermath of cataclysmic change. Here she tells the Herald the story of the last few months, starting with the moment the chemotherapy was stopped.

Halfway through the treatment, everything was abruptly halted with eight weekly sessions left to complete.

I felt shocked, a little lost and very sad that I could not say goodbye to the wonderful doctors and nurses at the Rigby Unit, at Stratford Hospital, who had made a very difficult situation a lot easier.

Along with this came the natural concern that stopping treatment right in the middle would have an effect on my chances of a reoccurrence. This led to setting up shielding conditions that were rapidly put in place.

My husband and children were still leaving the house to go to school and work as the shielding was put in place, which meant that I was isolating in the spare room with my own toilet, eating my meals alone and pretty much on my own 24/7.

I had to live like this until my family went into lockdown, but even then I still had to remain two metres away, preventing me from any close contact with my family.

During this time, I decided to launch my own YouTube channel detailing what I was going through to help other cancer sufferers.

A lot later than expected I was invited for a course of radiotherapy. This had also been impacted by the current crisis, with the 15 scheduled sessions reduced to five.

Thankfully a trial had just completed, which was stating it was just as effective. The strain on the NHS has been massive and this was illustrated by lack of information and direction about the treatment. I was contacted on the Friday before the Monday that it would start – completely understandable in the circumstances, but nevertheless unsettling.

The trip to the Arden Centre at Coventry was very worrying and disconcerting. All nurses were in full PPE, which made it very difficult to hear what they were saying and build up a little rapport.

The last day of treatment was the last day of active treatment – no more hospital visits.

Unfortunately, due to the virus, it did feel a bit of an anticlimax, with no real opportunity to celebrate, but a group of my friends organised a drive-by with banners and music playing.

Thankfully everything has gone smoothly and I am now out the other side, slowly returning to my coaching business.

I have been so grateful for the support of my family and friends and am not sure where I would be without them.

Cancer has taught me to make the most of the present moment and have quality time with the people that mean a lot to me.

Tracey’s YouTube channel can be found at here.