Age at diagnosis: 36
Family history of breast cancer: yes
Stage 1, triple negative
My name is Sarah. I’m 37 years old. My Breast cancer journey really began at 10 years old when my mum was diagnosed with her first breast cancer, then later on another and eventually dying of ovarian cancer. This lead to genetic testing which I tested positive to the BRCA1 gene. This gene causes Breast and ovarian cancer at a very high rate and also a lot in women under 40. It is usually a type called triple negative bc meaning it has no type of hormonal charge so it is very hard to treat as there is not yet a targeted treatment for it. It also is highly aggressive!
I felt like a ticking time bomb having this gene and was offered yearly mammograms and ultrasounds..
Then in February 2016 something was found on my ultrasound. It was classified as a complicated cyst which after many more tests confirmed it was no cyst at all. It was triple negative invasive breast cancer. My world shattered… I was 36, a single mum to two beautiful children, my daughter 8 who also has Down Syndrome and son who was 3… I was so scared of dying and leaving my children. I couldn’t even look at them with out totally breaking down.. I didn’t know how I could look after them through this and I felt so alone.
Lucky for great friends, my sister and dad and a marvelous community where I live, all stepped up to help in every way possible!
A plan to remove my breasts was in place quickly and a lot of further testing to see if it had spread.
In early April I had a double mastectomy…
I remember the moment I caught a glimpse in the hospital mirror of myself and just cried and cried.. Part of my womanhood was gone.
I wanted breasts back so I had chest expanders put in place and slowly expanded them with saline. This process was very painful.
I had to start chemotherapy as soon as possible after recovering from surgery because of the aggressiveness of my cancer and it was hard coming to terms that I would lose my hair I really loved as well. it was long, blonde and straight.
Chemo was extremely hard and I got very sick each cycle, the first being the worst as I had nutropenia and got an infection.. Lots of time spent in hospital on intravenous antibiotics to try and stop sepsis… I also had to have medicine to help my bone marrow repair which was very painful too. My whole body just hurt and ached so so bad.
I made it through my chemo, was bald as a badger but I was alive… That’s how I had to look at my tortured body to get through the day.
In January 2017 I had my chest expanders surgically changed to silicon implants and will require more procedures on them to either create nipples, fat graft to fill out and tattooing. I feel a little more womanly, nicer in clothing again and just a little more normal.
It is now 1 year since I was diagnosed and I was just told I have no evidence of disease in my body and I’m just so relieved and happy.. I went hard and it has paid off at this time.
I will be checked every 3 months because of my type and aggressiveness of cancer and I know things can change in a split second, so life has to be lived and enjoyed every moment!