Age at diagnosis: 24
At 24 years old my biggest worry was finding time in my days off to catch up with friends and the drama of what to cook for dinner. Who knew that one tiny lump could change the direction of my whole life. I was 4 years into my dream job as a paramedic and was very content in where I was in life and always took advantage of the fact that my family and I were very healthy and happy unlike many families and patients I encountered at work.
When I was 24.5 yrs. old I found a lump, quite small, in my right breast. It was close to the breast bone and just felt like a hard pea size lump. Initially I didn’t think to much of it but it didn’t go away so I had a nagging feeling I needed to get it checked. I went to the GP who took one look and said it is absolutely fine, I am worrying to much as I am too young with no apparent family history. I left feeling a little bit silly about feeling so paranoid about it. About 2 weeks later the lump was still there and I still didn’t feel right about it so I went back to the GP. She said to me if I wanted to waste my money and get an ultrasound it was completely up to me. After all the patients I encountered in my job as a paramedic it has made me a bit over cautious so I said yes I wanted to spend the money and get an ultrasound.
The day after my ultrasound and needle biopsy I got a phone call saying I needed to go and see my GP where she went on to tell me that it was cancer. Those words ‘I’m sorry you have breast cancer,’ is something I never thought I would hear. In that moment I was absolutely terrified, shocked and over whelmed… How could I have cancer…. What did I do wrong……Did I eat the wrong food and not look after myself……How could this happen???
From here I went on to have multiple surgeries including lumpectomy, mastectomy, fertility preservation, partial hysterectomy and breast reconstruction. Along with 6 months of hectic chemotherapy. I look back at it now and it’s all a bit of a blur, you just do what you have to do to survive and be healthy again.
However, as crazy as it sounds I wouldn’t change this experience as there are so many things I have learnt. I learnt I have the most incredible supportive family and friends that still to this day stick by me no matter what. I have learnt that having no hair is quite refreshing- especially in summer, I saved so much time in the morning not having to brush my hair! I have learnt life is so so incredibly short and precious and I think so many people don’t realise this. And finally I have the best boobs now that are going to be perky into my 90’s and all my other 90 year old friends are going to be so jealous.
My aim in life now is to life ever moment, laugh and have fun. To treasure those around me and enjoy each and every moment with them. To dedicate my time to be an advocate for other young men and women going through what I have gone through and to create as much awareness as I can. If I can prevent just 1 person from dying of breast cancer because of early detection I will be happy. So everyone… any age, young or old, men or women check your breasts.