Age at diagnosis: 30
I celebrated my thirtieth birthday in October 2015 by jetting off with some friends to Day Dream Island… fast forward to December 2015 when I found a lump in my breast, so after some prompting from my mum I went along to GP knowing it was nothing, because I was thirty and healthy and was breast feeding my then 5 month old. I didn’t smoke and hardly drank and had no real family history, so to me it was obvious that It had to be mastitis… until it wasn’t. December 22nd 2015 I went back to my GP and thankfully I had asked my husband Josh to come so I must have known on some level something wasn’t ok. It was then I was told I had breast cancer. I recall asking my GP if I was going to die and hearing him simply say ‘I don’t know’ still haunts me. These are not the words you expect to be hearing at 30.
For the next week I lurched from appointment to appointment test to test stomach dropping with every call, crying and praying, laying awake googling everything which FYI goggle is not a great way to calm any fears!!!! I was diagnosed with stage two triple positive breast cancer.
I had mastectomy two days after Christmas and started a particularly brutal regime of dose dense chemo for then next six months, followed by six weeks of radiation and several more surgeries to remove my other breast and perform reconstruction. Having cancer at any age is terrible but to be diagnosed at 30 with a tiny baby and your whole life in front of you was quite simply devastating, not only for me but for my whole family.
This June I will be two years post treatment. This has not been without regular stress and fear that I have had to learn to live with, to try and calm my head that every ache and pain I feel isn’t the cancer coming back. Some cancer survivors I know call this their ‘new normal’…. Well new normal’s suck!
Since being diagnosed I have learnt that 3 in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer will be under forty, this age group also have worse outcomes generally because of late detection. I was incredibly lucky I found my cancer early…ish at stage 2. If I’m honest I’d have preferred stage 1. I am also told I am lucky my cancer has good parameters and treatments. I now take a tablet each day and have an enormous injection jabbed into my stomach each month to suppress the production of hormones that are linked to be development and growth of my form of breast cancer, this treatment will continue for the next three years, a total of five years all up. The side effects are my joints ache, I have hot flushes and crazy fatigue but still I’m so incredibly lucky! I would describe cancer as overwhelming; an overwhelming fear, loss, grief and love. Cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed but everyone they love and that loves them.