Alison’s Special Day story

Meet Alison, 34, from Wigan, who has completed treatment for breast cancer. Her and the family enjoyed a Special Day at the magical Harry Potter Studios!  Juggling between being a mum and experiencing health anxiety post-treatment, her story is about resilience, strength, and honesty…

We all had a truly magical time and made memories and photos to treasure forever.

– Alison

I’m a mother of two, and my children were just four and two when I was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. Luckily, as they were so young, they accepted that I was poorly and needed to go to the hospital, and I needed medicine that made my hair fall out. Having young children meant that life continued pretty much as normal between chemo sessions and scans and other hospital appointments. I still made tea, put a wash on, brushed teeth, did the school run, practised spelling, went to swimming lessons, did the food shop, played with Barbie’s, and all the millions of other things that we parents do! It kept me busy and focused and showed us that there was still life outside of my diagnosis. I didn’t worry or fear what might happen as I knew I was going to be ok.

Most people struggle with the initial cancer diagnosis. I didn’t really and found it easier being pragmatic and practical. I rarely cried or thought ‘why me?’ – I just wanted to start treatment straight away so I could get better sooner. After my treatment was finished, it should have been time to celebrate, and outwardly I was. Family and friends were thrilled that I was ‘better’ and the bad experience was now over and could be pushed out of my mind. I then returned to work, and things were like I had never been away. I’m young and fit, and most people forget I was ever ill. However, since then I have struggled with health anxiety. As our children are getting older, they are now asking more questions. We have been honest about everything that was happening from the start in an age-appropriate way but still, it’s hard finding the right answer when they ask if cancer will come back or if I will die.

Whilst having treatment for primary breast cancer, you are completely focused on ‘beating it’ – because the vast majority will, for a short while at least. It’s only after treatment ends that your attention turns to secondary breast cancer. It’s a lot harder to have the same level of pragmatism and ‘it’s happened, get on with it’ style thinking, when no matter what you do, it will always be the same tragic ending. My primary diagnosis didn’t change me, but my fear of secondary breast cancer is with me every single day. I want to make as many happy memories as I can for my family. My biggest fear is my cancer recurring as secondary breast cancer, and although if that happens, I will still hopefully be able to make memories, I worry that they will be harder to enjoy. Right now we are making memories for us as a family to remember as the kids grow up. 

Going to the Harry Potter studios for my Special Day was a once in a lifetime experience due to the distance and cost. The gift of tickets to the studios and accommodation to stay nearby was beyond anything we could have imagined. We all had a truly magical time and made memories and photos to treasure forever. The children have talked about it constantly since, and can’t wait to go back to school to tell their classmates.