"You have cancer in your left breast and will need to have a mastectomy in the next couple of weeks".
This is something that I never expected to hear. I was 27 years old, didn't have a family history of breast cancer and was heavily pregnant. I felt as though this moment was happening in slow motion. “Cancer? Really?” I looked to my right and saw the tears stream down my husband’s face. Yes, this was happening. This was real.
It was the start of 2017 - I was about 12 week’s pregnant, and noticed a large lump, approximately 6 centimetres in diameter in my left breast. It appeared out of nowhere.
I went to my doctor and she thought it was hormonal. She said to come back in a few weeks; if it changed, an ultrasound would be organised to see what was going on. Nothing changed and I somewhat forgot about it. It wasn't causing me pain, there was no redness – it was nothing that caused concern.
A few months later I was getting closer to being in my third trimester of pregnancy, so I thought it was a good idea to get the lump re-checked, just to ensure it didn't cause issues with breast feeding.
I had the ultrasound which showed some abnormalities, so an urgent appointment was organised with the surgeon. He seemed quite concerned and sent me to the hospital to have a mammogram and biopsies taken. A week later, I received my diagnosis.
From that day, I promised myself that I would make this experience as positive as possible. I would not let this get me. It’s either ‘it’ or me, and I wasn’t going to let ‘it’ win. I have two beautiful girls to live for and a husband that can’t cook ha ha!
It has been a long process; almost a year since my diagnosis and a lot has changed. After giving birth to my second daughter, a single mastectomy, 16 rounds of Chemo, 28 cycles of radiotherapy, seven months into my year long, three weekly treatment of Herceptin, multiple hospital visits, and a lovely visit to ICU for sepsis, I am still standing.
I am due to have further surgery this coming October to have an elective mastectomy on my right breast and complete reconstruction during this procedure. I am totally exhausted, but also grateful. As I recover I continue to plan my future with my husband and children.
Although I look forward to the end of this ordeal, I have met some absolutely amazing people along the way. The Alfred staff have become more like friends, and I truly thank them for keeping me alive. Which is why I am so pleased to be able to support them this Dry July and give something back to the organisation that helped me.