When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January a friend remarked that cancer had a big fight on its hands if it was taking me on. I haven't let it hinder me a bit - and the support of family and friends has carried me through.
Two of my close friends had been diagnosed before me and have been through surgery and treatment, so I knew what could be ahead of me.
I discovered a lump in my left breast in January - five years previously I had found a lump in my right breast which fortunately was found to be a fibrodema, and not cancer.
I had been a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness for 10 years and was familiar with the leaflets produced to highlight checks you should do - so I knew the signs to look out for. I had a feeling that this time I had cancer because of what I observed in the area of the lump - there was definite puckering which should always be checked out.
In the meantime, I had booked a holiday to South Africa with a group of 10 girls and went ahead with this in February. Throughout the trip the lump didn't go away but I didn't tell anyone and had a great time going on safari and seeing the sights.
When I returned my GP impressed upon me the urgency of getting investigated and I decided to go private for a speedier diagnosis. My sister accompanied me to the Ulster Clinic where I had a mammogram of both breasts, scans and a needle biopsy.
Later that evening the consultant told me that a benign lump in the right breast had been found as well as two malignant lumps in the left. I was strangely calm - because my friends had been through all this before I knew what could be ahead of me and that helped so much.
I was told I required a mastectomy and the removal of my lymph nodes - but I just wanted to go ahead and get on with whatever needed to be done.
It was very difficult to break the news to my family and friends. My husband, Dave, knew that something was wrong because I'd been at the clinic for so long. And my daughters, Sarah and Rachel, were so young - they're just 17 and 11 now.
There were tears but I did my best to reassure my family and remind them of my friends' experiences. It was particularly difficult to tell my mother and, of course, it was very hard for her to deal with but when she saw how positive I was it really helped and encouraged her.
In April I had surgery (I was referred back to the NHS Belfast City Hospital for this). As well as the mastectomy I had reconstruction involving the insertion of a silicone implant and tissue taken from my back - and I was home after six days.
A week later I learned my cancer had been assessed as grade three meaning it was quite aggressive. It was also found to be Her2 positive, which the drug herceptin is said to be effective against.
I was enormously relieved, however, to be told that my cancer was not genetic, and therefore my daughters are no more likely to contract it than anyone else. This had been a big worry.
My treatment would involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy, herceptin and tamoxifen. I was also given the option to take part in a Cancer Research UK Tact 2 clinical trial, which I agreed to. I had heard of the work of Cancer Research UK so much over the years and welcomed the option to be part of a trial. Someone had obviously taken part in a herceptin trial before me, and now I am going to benefit from that, so I wanted to do something that might help others coming after me.
In the trial, doctors are looking at ways of treating early breast cancer with commonly used drugs, but in a different manner. The trial is comparing giving these drugs in certain combinations every two or three weeks, to see which is better at treating early cancer and to find out more about the side effects.
Also, it involves part of my chemotherapy being administered orally - I had noticed that with the intravenous treatment my veins would sink away so I was pleased to try this new method and hopefully it will turn out to be a good option for others.
I had been concerned about the possibility of sickness, which is common with chemotherapy, but the anti-sickness drug I took was brilliant. Another dread had been the possibility of hair loss, and indeed this happened to me in June, after I started chemotherapy. As it turned out, however, I was able to laugh at myself and I got a wig fitted.
I finish my chemotherapy in October and then start radiotherapy sessions. When my radiotherapy finishes I will begin taking herceptin which will hopefully reduce the likelihood of the cancer returning.
It was ironic that in 27 years working as a dental technician I had two days off sick. I'm not returning to work - I'm also a director of the company - until my treatment is finished.
The most important thing is to stay positive throughout and keep laughing as much as possible. I haven't let it stop me - I was at the front of the crowd at the Snow Patrol concert recently and absolutely loved it.
I have a wonderful family and a great circle of friends who have been with me all the way. I would just advise everyone not to leave anything to chance, know the signs to look out for and get anything checked out that you're not sure about.
For information about cancer visit www.cancerhelp.org.uk , or tel: Cancer Research UK's specialist information nurse team on 020 7061 8355 or freephone 0800 226 237