Steph Felks has found support on Instagram, after her cancer diagnosis
The 36 year-old was originally told she had primary breast cancer in 2019, and believed she had come through the worst of it after six courses of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiotherapy.
But in December 2020, Steph received the devastating news that the cancer had returned, and this time, had spread to her neck. She is now undergoing a treatment called ‘targeted therapy’ – which targets cancer cells, to help prevent them from multiplying, as opposed to chemotherapy, which aims to kill all cells, cancerous or healthy. Discussing her illness, Steph spoke frankly, saying, ‘They (medics) don’t like to use the word ‘terminal’. They say I am ‘living with cancer’ but they cannot cure it. There are options. I found it quite early in my neck but it has spread quite rapidly’.
As a result of her health issues, Steph has had to quit her job as a paramedic – a role she has held for five years, and spoke on her decision to quit. She told YorkshireLive, ‘I think I was clinging on because it meant that I wasn’t too poorly. I didn’t want to give it up. There was the fear of never having the opportunity to earn money’.
But Steph has found solace from an unlikely source – Instagram. The online platform, according to Steph, has been of much comfort. Explaining its impact, Steph admitted, ‘If I had not found the ‘cancer community’ on Instagram before my secondary diagnosis I don’t think I would have coped as well. You can ask each other questions and some people upload videos of themselves going into hospital or just having fun. That has been a help, but I do have good days and bad days’.
In particular, Steph has been inspired by a lady called Deborah James, who is better known as ‘Bowel Babe’, on the social media platform. Deborah is living with stage 4 bowel cancer, but does not miss an opportunity to update her 180,000 followers on her progress. As a result, Steph has also created an Instagram account (@stephdoessecondaries) and aims, by speaking her story, to help others feel comfortable discussing theirs.
As well as updating her account, Steph will also be kept busy with a charity ball for the emergency services, which she is organising. She explained that, as well as the proceeds going towards secondary breast cancer charity Make 2nds Count, this event will also serve as her retirement party.