At 30 years old and living in 2015, I’ve always wanted to write a blog. I wanted to document my children’s milestones, share parenting tips, have discussions about my children’s first day at school and life as a full time nurse. But life got in the way, I was always too busy with work, family life and housework. I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs and relating to their concerns, fears and excitement of being a parent and a working mum. I loved nothing more than getting in from a busy day at work, pouring myself a cold glass of wine and looking online at everyone’s posts.
I never thought my first blog post would be talking about being diagnosed with grade 3 invasive breast cancer at the age of 30. But who would?
So, yes I am 30 years old, completely healthy, a bit overweight, but generally pretty active. I am a mum to two beautiful children, Macey who is 9 tomorrow and Freddie who is 4. I have been in a relationship with my childhood sweetheart John for almost 12 years and we have been blessed to be married for 6. I am a nurse and have worked at the same local hospital for 11 years, a job I absolutely love.
Being that I am a woman and a nurse you would think I would naturally check my boobs for the dreaded cancer, like they tell us to on ITV “This Morning” and health promotion articles/leaflets/TV ads. But I just never did. I don’t know why, it just didn’t occur to me that I would be at risk of developing cancer. After all we have no family history of this and to be quite honest I didn’t really know how? Sounds silly right? But post children, most breasts are pretty lumpy in between cycles, would I know what to look for?
So my story begins with a trigger that made me check my breasts that night in the bath.
I was driving along going to visit my next patient, I was working a Friday late shift, when I had a pinching pain in my right armpit. It was really niggling me and I actually felt the area when the traffic lights went red, I could feel a lump in my upper right breast, but the lights quickly changed green and off I went.
That night In the bath, I had a feel and could definitely feel a lump. I did not tell anyone until Monday morning when I realised it had been there all weekend and had not reduced in size. So I told my hubby, parents and sister. I was due in work at 10am , so made a quick phone call to my GP who saw me straight away. She was a locum GP and so very kind, she assured me it was more than likely to be related to my menstrual cycle, but referred me to the breast clinic to be seen in 2 weeks time. She found 2 lumps in my breast, at this point though I still wasn’t that concerned.
I attended the breast clinic with just my mum, my hubby was away in Birmingham that day, he offered to come, but I genuinely thought it was a cyst or something benign.
The breast care nurse examined me and didn’t seem too worried. The local hospital offer a ‘one stop breast clinic’ so you can be there for approx 3 hours. I assumed I would be in and out, being that it was nothing serious.
I had an ultrasound of my breast with a consultant radiologist. (This is a very experienced doctor at consultant level, that just specialises in imaging) She asked me if I had any other symptoms or abnormalities in my breast. I had no other symptoms, no discharge, no skin changes. Nothing. The doctor asked me whilst she was still examining me with the ultrasound probe if I had anyone with me? Being in the medical profession myself, I knew that question all too well. I knew bad news was going to follow.
The radiologist had found a lump at the bottom of my breast and showed me on the ultrasound screen. She said she thought it was cancer and was highly suspicious that it was. She then proceeded to examine the rest of my breast and went onto say that my lymph nodes at the top of my breast was very enlarged and the ones in my armpit. So the original lump I found, was not the cancer it was the lymph node. My body went into shock, adrenaline kicked in and I was shaking from head to toe, I remember looking up at the ceiling, still laying on the couch and it felt like the ceiling was coming towards me, I had to keep blinking to make it go back all the while I’m still shaking with fear.
In the meantime, my poor mum was still sat in the waiting room reading an ‘OK’ Magazine, completely oblivious to what was going on. They took a core needle biopsy straight away and I was told to come back in a few days for biopsies of my lymph nodes.
The radiology assistant arranged for a quiet room for us to stay for a while and let the news sink in. All I kept thinking was that it was suspicious and we could be wrong. This could be benign; how wrong could I be…….
On the 17th December the cancer diagnosis was confirmed. I have grade 3 invasive Estrogen receptor positive cancer in my right breast. The cancer has already spread to my lymph nodes (intra mammory and Axilla) and now I have to live with this news over the Christmas period and see the suffering from everyone around me. I feel like I’ve ruined everyone’s Christmas and shattered their hopes, we all knew it was cancer but ultimately we needed that final diagnosis from the pathologist to tick that box to say it definitely was. It was like someone had sucked the air from my lungs and I found it difficult to re fill them. I looked around and see the fear in my parents eyes and saw my husbands heart crumble. Why was this happening to me?
Ultimately the next step is to have a CT staging scan to see if the cancer has spread anywhere else in my body. I had this done on the 21st December. I have taken many patients for a CT scan before, I have always been by their side and held their hands on the way in if they were anxious, but until you lay on that cold hard slip with nothing on but hospital gown you realise how scary it is, I could feel everything as if it were magnified, things I usually do on daily basis, the cannula as it was inserted into my vein, the sting of the flush to test to see if it works. The contrast going through my veins and making me feel like I had wet myself, the embarrassment of sitting on a chair with just a gown on and seeing a hospital porter that you used to say hello to when normally at work.
I finally get the results of the rest of the scan tomorrow, New Year’s Eve. My daughters birthday.
We have decided to make her day really special until 3pm, then we will make our way to the hospital and hope and pray that the news is the best it can be. I have already prepared myself for bad news though, you see naturally I am very organised and feel like my life has been Interupted enough already. I will hopefully have my mastectomy in the next two weeks and start chemotherapy and radiotherapy shortly after. I have already prepared myself for hair loss, but I will do another post as I realise this one is already very long.
I will keep you all updated throughout my journey. Hopefully this will help others concerned and others at the very early stages gather their own thoughts, although I appreciate I am still in the very early stages in regards to treatment. Hopefully this time next year I will have a whole year of documentation of the highs and lows of beating this terrible disease and will be back to do the job I love and being a proper mummy again.
Thank you for reading.