A woman who began to experience depression after battling breast cancer, has revealed the benefits of taking up ballet.
Georgina Baker, 61, from Prestwood, Buckinghamshire, was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2012 after discovering a lump in her right breast while in the shower.
The blogger, who carries the braca 2 gene – which her daughters have also inherited – had a mastectomy in 2012 along with eight sessions of chemotherapy and 21 days of radiotherapy.
Before having another mastectomy in 2016, Georgina had reconstructive surgery in 2013, a mastectomy on her left breast and her ovaries removed.
BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive women are at a high risk for breast and ovarian cancers, and are advised that they should potentially undergo bilateral mastectomy or routine breast cancer screenings.
‘I found a lump in my right breast in the shower on January 1st 2012. I am a fairly pragmatic person and knew there was no point in stressing,’ she said, recalling her tough journey.
‘However intuitively I knew as my breast had been itching. I was diagnosed within 2 weeks. I wasn’t surprised but was shocked if that makes sense.
‘I guess I knew but was hoping my instinct was wrong.’
Georgina began to struggle with her mental health after receiving a string of treatments but no after care from the hospital.
She said: ‘By the time five years was up, which was when the ladies I knew from the breast cancer care forum were told they they had the all clear, I had already had another mastectomy.
‘Every time I had a check up I was told everything looked fine but I honestly cannot remember anyone telling me I had the all clear.’
Georgina described the moment she found an outlet, remembering: ‘I loved ballet as a child and when a friend told me that adult classes were being taught locally I jumped at the chance to join.
‘I believe in hindsight I was quite depressed prior to starting ballet and had lost a lot of confidence in myself and my body.
‘Mentally ballet has helped me in so many ways. I find the music uplifting and energising. The teacher is a gem and very encouraging.
‘Learning routines help my concentration and memory which were shot to pieces after chemotherapy.
‘And because I can see my body becoming more toned by the week I am an all – round happier person.’
Georgina said: ‘I have done ballet for two years and at the moment go twice a week to a 1 hour class. For two terms I did 2 two hour classes – ballet fitness and then ballet.
‘Losing weight and becoming more toned have given me the impetus to eat healthily and be more active.
‘I also believe ballet made me more aware of my body and myself and consequently gave me the impetus to seek counselling.’
Georgina, who has been sharing how her life has changed since cancer in her blog ‘lady-online.blog’, believes many people who’ve fought cancer feel pressure to get back to how life was before the disease.
She added: ‘Everyone expects you to get back to normal when treatment is finished.
‘I would advise woman to go easy on themselves and not to rush back into doing anything until they are ready – physically, mentally and emotionally.’
Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, Rachel Rawson, explained that Georgina is not alone in experiencing benefits from being active after cancer.
She said: ‘Breast cancer often has devastating long-term physical and emotional impacts, which can make adapting to life after treatment really challenging.
‘Many women are left with debilitating side effects like pain and fatigue, as well as issues with body confidence and fears about the cancer returning, so getting back into everyday activities like exercise can feel extremely difficult.
‘However, exercise – be it ballet, swimming or a brisk walk – can make a big difference to well being after breast cancer and even a small amount of movement does have benefits. Exercise can help ease side effects from treatment and improve mental health, and some studies suggest that it may help reduce risk of the cancer coming back.
‘A good start for anyone struggling to get back to exercise at the end of treatment is to set realistic goals and gradually build up activity.
‘It’s important to remember that doing little things every day adds up. For support and information about exercise after breast cancer, call 0808 800 6000 to talk to Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now’s specialist nurses.’
For support and information after breast cancer, download Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now’s BECCA app.