This is the full text of the article published by The News in Portsmouth on January 4th 2011.
Journalist: Sarah Foster
Life got So Much Better
Michelle Jones got the tummy tuck she wanted, but had to battle breast cancer first. She talks to Sarah Foster about her journey and what she hopes it can teach others.
It could be the plot of a Hollywood film, featuring a motorbike accident and a brave fightback from breast cancer,
But this is Michelle Jones real life and she insists she’s actually got a lot to be thankful for.
As she and her husband Phil were finally getting their lives back together after redundancy and injury left them broke and struggling, Michelle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breats cancer.
‘It sounds like a disaster story,’ laughs Michelle. ‘But it’s not.’
Despite the gruelling chemotherapy and the fear that she might die, michelle says good things did come as a result of being told she had breast cancer.
Her illness has brought her family closer and it also provided the tummy tuck she’d always wanted, but couldn’t afford.
In October 2004, what she longed for most was some cosmetic surgery to take away what Phil affectionately referred to as her ‘baby bag’.
A month later she was about to start chemotherapy and had no idea her wish was on its way to coming true.
‘I said to Phil “I’d do anything for a tummy tuck” and the universe heard me and granted my wish in a way I could never have imagined.’ she explains.
The 49 year old had to have a mastectomy and a friend told her about a type of reconstructive surgery that could also involve having a tummy tuck.
surgeons used skin and tissue taken from her tummy to reconstruct her left breast-getting rid of the bulge of skin she’d always hated.
And the whole operation was done by the NHS so the family, from Waterlooville, didn’t have to spend a penny.
‘The surgery was absolutely fantastic,’ she adds, ‘I really was on cloud nine. all i wanted was a tummy tuck. Phil used to say it was the baby bag, but it used to hang in front. I went to sleep for nine hours and when I woke up I was in intensive care for three days on morphine.
I didn’t realise I wouldn’t wake up and be a size 12, but of course I wasn’t.’
No-one would choose to have breast cancer, but michelle has used her own experience to illustrate a book she plans to write.
At the moment she’s pitching her idea for ‘The Answer.’ in a publishing company’s X-Factor-style internet competition. and if enough people view her entry and like it, she could see her book become a reality.
‘we’ve had a series of what might look like disasters that have actually been really positive,’ she says. ‘I think I can really ciope with anything now. It’s not an autobiography in the conventional sense. They like books that use your situation to appeal to other people about how you can help them to get over this.
‘It’s about using the positive in certain situations-even when you are at your lowest. It’s about being careful what you wish for. The book shows you how to make your wishes-and that’s to put them into a positive light.
‘I would have wished i’d had a windfall so i could have paid for a tummy tuck, but I can’t regret having had cancer, it’s brought so many good things.’
Over the years, Michelle and Phil have had a lot of tough things to cope with.
In May 1995, Phil was riding his motorcycle on the A27 between Chichester and Bognor Regis, with Michelle on the back. The bike skidded on its side and Michelle suffered a fractured leg and severe bruising to her left leg and pelvis. She was on crutches for 18 months which meant she could no longer work.
‘Our lowest point wasn’t about the cancer, it was after the accident,’ she adds. ‘For five months we had no money, that was a really scary position. Phil was made redundant and things started to look pretty bleak. Three days later we got married. We went ahead with it because everything had been paid for. But we really didn’t know how we were going to be able to keep the house. It sounds like a disaster story, but it’s not.
‘It’s three months I would never care to repeat. We were both hoping for a miracle.
‘If you wish for something hard enough, the universe will hear you. But you have to be careful what you wish for.’
Michelle thinks their request for a miracle was answered when an old friend got back in touch with Phil and offered him a job.
The accident also gave her time to become more creative and she started painting and writing. Things were starting to look up and they were finding their feet again. Phil had gone back to work and the kids, James, now 22, Matthew, 18 and 14 year old Holly-were growing up.
Michelle had decided to train as a holistic therapist and was all set to start a business from home when she found out she had cancer.
‘Everybody kept saying “It’s nothing”,’ she explains. ‘There was no lump or bump. It was just a twinge in my shoulder that would come and go. You don’t go to the doctor for a vague twinge. But then I went for something else and said “By the way, while I’m here”.
‘everyone said “It’s probably nothing serious”. Then we went and had the official results from pathology and this guy said “It’s breast cancer, it’s category three, it’s aggressive, you’ll probably need a mastectomy”.’
Michelle started her chemotherapy in November 2004 and the treatment lasted until March.
The kids were obviously worried but Michelle says it was the thought of losing her hair that concerned her most.
‘I was mainly focused on the chemotherapy. I’d always had very long hair and the thought of losing it was making me panicky. If I put myself in control of my hair loss I would feel better about it so I had it cut into a very short style and we raised about £1000 for charity.
At the first dose of chemotherapy it started coming out so I had it shaved off. If the chemotherapy had taken my hair I don’t think I would have been able to cope. By me doing it, I was in charge.’
A mastectomy was planned and it was while she was looking at her options for reconstruction that the TRAM flap was mentioned.
TRAM flap stands for Transverse Rectus Abdominis Myocutaneous and combines mastectomy with abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, allowing the breast to be reconstructed with the sufferer’s tissues, instead of a foreign implant.
Michelle had the surgery on 26th April 2005, and although it’s left her with a large scar, she says she’s delighted she got her tummy tuck in the end.
‘If you want something bad enough, then sometimes the universe will provide it,’ she says. ‘I want to share the message that you can be more happy and more content, it’s not just about trying to win the lottery. it’s about looking at what you’ve got now and being happy with that. seeing positive in everything.
‘At the end of each days, you need to find something that you are proud of and feel positive about, especially now, when everybody is tight for money.
‘You’ve got to be thankful for what you’ve got and try for what you want.’
She adds: ‘Life is what you make it. If you think positive, life will be positive.’
The Book Proposal
Michelle Jones has used her experiences to submit a book proposal to publishing company Hay House, the world’s biggest publishers of mind, body, spirit and self-help books.
From an initial group of around 170, she’s one of only around 13 who have got as far as submitting their book proosal and accompanying You Tube video. The more people that watch the video, the better her chance of winning. But only one winner can be picked to have their book turned unto reality.
Michelle will find out if her book-called ‘The Answer.’-has won on Friday*
*Actually Monday 10/01/12
She says “The phrase “Be careful of what you wish for” can be all too true. However, i have not just survived, but discovered that actually The Answer to your wishes can be simpler than you think.
to watch Michelle’s video.
You can also find out more by visiting http://www.michellejones.me.uk/