Age at diagnosis: 31
Family history of breast cancer:yes
Stage 2, triple positive
My Nana had cancer when I was 4. I had several members of my family diagnosed with cancer. I know the risk and therefore I was always vigilant in checking my breasts every month.
When I was 31 I had just started a job as Medical Receptionist working for my Uncle, a Dr, in his private practice. On Anzac day, 2013 I found a lump in my left breast. My initial thought was to leave it and not do anything about it unless it got bigger! I’m a busy mum of 3, my youngest only 21 months (the other girls were 3 & 11) and I’ve just started a new job. I didn’t have time to get it checked, until my friends said I should have a Dr look at it. I asked my Uncle to please check my lump, he then sent me for an ultrasound and a mammogram where they found another 2 lumps. I had 3 in total. I underwent a core biopsy & two fine needle aspirations. I was at work when my results came back….. It was cancer and an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer (DCIS, stage 2, grade 3).
Over the next few weeks I underwent various tests to see if the cancer had spread, I also underwent genetic testing for the BRCA 1 & 2 gene mutation (I tested inconclusive, negative). This was an extremely stressful time in my life as I didn’t know if I was about to be given a death sentence! I had to live… death wasn’t an option it was unfair as I was young and I had a young family.
I met with my surgeon who stated she would do a lumpectomy and hopefully all I would need is radiation as the cancer hasn’t spread to the rest of my body. 2 days after my 32nd birthday I underwent my lumpectomy, sadly the margins weren’t clear and they found more cancer in my breast. I would need Chemo & a double mastectomy. Any attempts to salvage my breasts were now gone. I would also lose my long hair!
I underwent 9 rounds of chemo, 2 of which almost killed me. I was so violently ill. My 3 year old would ask my parents ‘is my mummy going to die?’
My husband had a job working away on the railways, therefore he wasn’t home. He was there for 2 out of the 9 rounds of chemo. My friends and family pitched in and helped me get through this extremely hard time. I also had to have 17 rounds of Herceptin as my largest tumour was HER2+. In total I went through 15 months of IV treatment. No port, cannulas each time, sometimes I would have up to 5 attempts to try and cannulate my veins before success. I would bruise and be in pain with each time of ‘trying to get a vein’. I finished my IV treatment on the 18th August 2014.
On the 18th December 2013, 1 week before Christmas I underwent a double mastectomy and rebuild. I was on the table for 6 hours. The operation was a success.
Having cancer was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. It changed my appearance, made me sick and it changed who I am. I grieved the loss of my hair, my breasts, my appearance & the time taken away from my little girls. I feel like I’ve lost 2 years out of my life, 2 years of my girl’s lives that I can’t get back. But because I fought so hard, I’m here for my children and I’m here for my family and friends. Cancer did take so much but it also gave me the strength to stand up fight for what is important, my life! It showed me who I can and can’t rely on. It showed me how strong I can be and ‘who has my back’. It taught me to slow down, smell the roses and admire the colours and the beauty of the flower. I don’t take anything for granted…….. I’m now 2 years in remission!!!