Holly

Age at diagnosis: 32
Family history of breast cancer: yes
Stage 1, hormone positive

 

Initially when I was diagnosed I felt like keeping it just between myself and close family and friends as I was worried about people’s reactions and not wanting them to feel awkward around me. But the more I thought about it I wanted to share my story to let my friends know how important it is to give yourself regular breast examinations and be vigilant about any changes, so I posted the below message on Facebook and urged people to share my story.

“Hello everyone,

As some of you may have heard I have recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I decided to shave my head and try to raise some money for the McGrath Foundation and also to share my story to help raise some awareness in young women in the importance in self checking.

At 32, I never expected to find a lump or that the lump I found would be cancerous, but it was. I urge everyone to start regularly self checking and become familiar with the lumps and bumps of your breasts. If you are the slightest bit concerned with anything, don’t feel like it would be silly to go to the doctor. GO AND GET IT CHECKED!!!

P.S. If you are not sure what to look for in a self check just ask your doctor in your next visit or ask at women’s health clinics.”
The support I received from this was amazing. I got so many messages of love, strength and praise that I was slightly overwhelmed. It meant the world to me that somany people were donating and sending messages especially since four months before my diagnosis my family and I had moved away from those nearest and dearest to us. We raised over $4500 for the McGrath foundation.

For me everything seemed to happen very fast and there were so many things I didn’t know. In August 2014 I found a lump in my left breast and was diagnosed with breast cancer. You start to hear words like invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3, hormone positive (oestrogen and progesterone), HER 2 negative, chemotherapy, radio therapy and menopause…but what exactly does it all mean to me?

I didn’t know that every person’s tumour had its own individual characteristics and that these will determine your treatment. For me the recommendation was lumpectomy , 4 cycles of chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. I would then be on a combination of Zoladex injections (that suppressed my ovarian function) and Aromasin, which lowers oestrogen levels in post menopausal women, for 10 years. This was important as my tumour was fed by oestrogen. I had a lumpectomy on the 8th September (my wonderful surgeon let me play in my soccer grand final 2 weeks after my surgery!!) and started chemotherapy in October. During this time I requested to undergo genetic testing as my beautiful mother also had breast cancer and passed away in 2005. At this point I hadn’t decided if I was going to have radiotherapy or choose to have a double mastectomy to complete my treatment. I found out that I didn’t have the BRCA genes, however instead of being relieved I felt strongly that I still wanted to have the double mastectomy, so with the support of my wonderful husband and family I had a bilateral mastectomy in January 2015.

I have 2 beautiful children aged 4 & 7 and throughout my treatment I tried to make life as normal as possible for them. That was really important to me. They were a massive help getting me drinks of water, taking my temperature, giving lots of cuddles and most importantly forcing me to keep active.

At the moment I feel fantastic and am trying to be fit, healthy and happy. But there is always a thought in the back of my mind that it could come back, that I am a ticking time bomb.

Holly