Age at diagnosis: 31
Family history of breast cancer: yes
Stage 1, estrogen positive
I was diagnosed on the 27th of June 2014. I found a lump in my right breast while showering. I waited a few weeks hoping it would go away, however it stayed so I ended up at the Dr. She asked how long my skin had been puckered? I had no idea what that even meant. She advised me that generally a cyst doesn’t cause puckering, and I should have a scan. I couldn’t get in for 4 weeks in Port Lincoln, so thought it mustn’t be that serious.
During the scan the breast specialist took a few biopsy samples. The following day I received a phone call asking me to come in to see
my Dr. the following morning and to bring someone for support. It was confirmed…breast cancer. The next week was a blur. My husband Pete and I travelled to Adelaide for 3 days of scans, tests, appointments, and being poked and prodded. I was then booked in for a lumpectomy the following week.
We stayed in Adelaide that whole week, and got home and eagerly waited for my pathology results. The good news was that my margins were clean and I didn’t need chemotherapy. However they still wanted me to do 4 weeks of radiotherapy. This was a very difficult time, being away from my family and my home. It was physically exhausting and I ended up very unwell in the 4th week which stuck with me for a long time.
I then started taking Tamoxifen. I hated every single day taking that tablet. The side effects were nothing short of..well…shit. Hot
flushes, night sweats, mood swings, brain fog, leg cramps, lack of sleep, constant abdominal cramps, irregular periods, skin pigmentation on my face, etc.
After genetics testing and learning about a very strong history of developing breast cancer in my family, in addition to my age, I was
told to consider a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.
We met with a plastic surgeon who specialised in breast reconstruction after breast cancer. He was fantastic, however I wasn’t prepared to hear about the complications I would be facing due to my skin being affected from the radiotherapy. I needed time to think, and get my head around it. Another year of taking Tamoxifen, in addition to the constant fear in my mind about recurrence, and I made another appointment and booked the date for my surgery.
The lead up to the op was difficult, 6 weeks of struggling with ‘have I made the right decision?’. I suffered bad anxiety, and almost
Nothing could have ever prepared me for how hard it was waking up after the operation. The pain was like nothing I could have imagined. I couldn’t get comfortable if I tried. I couldn’t so much as reach for my water bottle, grab my phone, brush my teeth. It was awful. The nausea to go with it didn’t help either!
I really struggled with my decision those first few days, and I was VERY down. Then, in came my oncologist to give me my pathology
results. The breast cancer side was already forming cancer again. After my lumpectomy, radiotherapy, 2 years of Tamoxifen, and it still
came back to haunt me. So at that point, relief swept over me. I made the right decision. 9 days in hospital, and I finally got the last of my drains out. I had to spend another week in Adelaide before I was ok to head home.
I then went back to Adelaide every few weeks for expansions. Once again, complications from radiotherapy. My skin wouldn’t stretch, and there was no natural fat on my right side. We then opted for fat grafting from my belly, to put in the areas affected.
I’m now recovering from this one, and waiting to see what next?