Age at diagnosis: 32
Family history of breast cancer:
Stage 3, triple negative
Just after I turned 32, in the October of 2012, I found a lump on the side of my left breast. I was feeling unwell so initially thought that it was just a swollen gland. When it was still there a few weeks later though, I decided it was time to head to the doctor for a check-up.
Thankfully my doctor is thorough, and even though she felt it was just a cyst (I was able to move the lump around and it hurt – all symptoms of a cyst), she decided it was best I went off and had a mammogram and ultrasound anyway. This led to a follow up with the breast surgeon, then biopsy. No one was particularly concerned at this point, appointments and tests were all spread out and no one was planning on following up the biopsy results until 16th January 2013.
On the 8th of January, I got a call: “Can you please come for an appointment tomorrow?” At that point, I knew I had cancer. My suspicions were confirmed the next day. I had cancer in my left breast. I had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy – showing small metastasis in the second node, requiring further surgery, 6 rounds of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation.
I was diagnosed as grade 2, stage 3, triple negative, so there is no ongoing treatment for me. Not a bad thing as I have heard horrid stories of the side effects caused by hormone treatments. But then I also have no “security” against recurrence or secondaries and triple negative is very aggressive. So one year post diagnosis, I freaked out! I asked my doctor to remove my breasts. I know that having a mastectomy won’t stop the cancer spreading elsewhere (I have done everything I can to stop that), but I can prevent another breast cancer. I also have three young children and I want to be here as long as possible to see them grow up. I will do anything to prevent another cancer!
In October of 2014, I had a double mastectomy and Diep flap reconstruction. I am incredibly happy with the results of my surgery and feel very content with my decision. No longer is breast cancer on my mind all day, every day. I will always be aware of it, and always encourage young women to do breast checks. Breast cancer can happen to anyone, regardless of what age you are, your family history or what risk category you fall into.