Smiling Jane in her office

How This Former Soldiers Battle With Breast Cancer Revealed Undiagnosed PTSD

Former soldier Jane Wilkes had to fight two battles of her own to become the person she is today

Smiling Jane in her office

Former soldier Jane Wilkes served on operations in the Adjutant General's Corps but she had to fight two very different battles of her own to become the person she is today.

Working in a wide variety of HR-based roles in the Adjutant General's Corps, Jane Wilkes was posted to Macedonia, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, where the stress of dealing with bad news was something she thought she was coping with.

"It was a very, very difficult time."

"I was the SO2 J1 heading up a small team in Helmand initiating casualty notification through various routes to allow families back home to be informed."

Jane had to be flown home from Afghanistan three months into Operation Herrick 15 to face a traumatic battle with her health and describes how the situation unfolded.

"I felt a throbbing in my left breast and having been flown back to the UK a few days later, it was triple negative breast cancer."

One year later, with one trauma under control, her bottled-up feelings about her work in Afghanistan began to pour out.

Jane credits a Royal British Legion (RBL) Battleback course with taking the stopper out of the bottle. She asked for help.

"I think I had just had to park all of those emotions and those experiences whilst I was trying to get through a cancer diagnosis."


Another step on the path to recovery was becoming Assistant Stage Manager for the RBL's Bravo 22 Company for their production, 'Contact'.

Now, with a happy marriage to Tony, and a three-year-old daughter, Jane's painful fight back to happiness has been further rewarded.

She is East Anglia's Deputy Chief Executive of Reserve Forces & Cadet Association, based in a Victorian building on the outskirts of Chelmsford.

As the Wilkes family adjust to life as British Army veterans, in a peaceful Essex village, Jane is still counting her blessings.

"I'm still affected by seeing sad and bad things but I'm able to manage it emotionally and mentally."

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