This educational video explores the journey of a woman that has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
My journey started when I was 26 so as someone quite young, who I guess at 26, you’re not in that frame of mind of cancer, especially when you find a lump, you’re probably more thinking, fatty tissue or cist or something like that.
Thankfully I had a GP and I followed up when I found a lump and we sort of, you know, did the biopsies and then what unfolded was cancer.
For myself it was, I guess in a way, it was hard for me to identify cancer in myself – that was one thing I couldn’t associate. I found it really hard actually saying the word, ‘cancer’ but once I did, I sort of felt a bit of emotional, sort of released after I did that, but it was more, sort of, just trying to understand, okay, you’ve been branded with this, you’ve got breast cancer, but there’s so many different forms of breast cancer and so many different treatments and so many different things – it’s sort of like, but what do you mean? I need you to explain what’s ahead? Is it having just surgery? Is it having chemo? Is it having only radiation? Is it having my breast removed? That sort of thing.
Initially, it is very, very overwhelming and I think that, you know, just taking that one step at a time but for me, it was sort of having lumpectomies.
Initially, when I was first diagnosed having to come to terms with, do I have a lumpectomy? which is just part of the breast removed or do I have a mastectomy? At that time, I was in that grey area so I could have had a mastectomy, but my surgeons opted for a lumpectomy first. Probably now looking back, being 7 years’ time, I probably would have gone with a mastectomy.
I think that’s also something, down the track you have a bit more time on your hands then you worry a little bit about lumps and bumps and what if, what if. In hindsight, looking back now, but I know at the time, I was happy with the choice to have a lumpectomy and so did that and then going down the journey of having to do an egg harvest - prior to chemo, having my eggs frozen because chemo can make you infertile so that was another thing, probably at 26, weren’t really thinking about kids at that stage but, it’s something else that I had to just do, so we could just start the whole chemo process.
I guess one thing you have to come to terms with, which is hard and still hard now is that you have a plan in your head, exactly what might happen so you might have 6 chemo rounds or you might have your surgery or something like that, but you have to remember that it’s not always going to go to plan and you have to be okay with that because, it is what it is at the end of the day.
You can be emotional, you can be upset, you can take time but, at the end of the day, it is what it is and it’s out of your control sometimes and you just have to do what’s best, for your own health and for yourself and for your family.
Had the chemo – didn’t all go to plan but, went through that. Did the radiation for 6 weeks and then we sort of moved on with medication and only 5 years down the track – 6 years down the track that I have now opted to have a double mastectomy for precaution – preventative. I’ve had the genetic testing done and there’s no family history, which we were aware of at the time, but yeah, it was sort of the next step. In between all of that I’ve had 2 children so that also gives you a bit more of a perspective on what’s important and making sure you’re around for them so, this is the next step.
I was booked in for a double mastectomy then I opted to have the tissue expanders. I could have the tissue, bilateral but for myself, with young children, it just seemed a little bit more invasive for me. I opted for the tissue expanders and then the implants to then follow.
I went along that journey and 6 weeks post, the implants being done, I had complications so, I had fluid that was leaking from one of the sites and so had to do about 6 weeks of in and out of hospital to make sure that there was no infection. Following that, the surgeons and myself have opted to have that implant removed so I now have one implant, but I now have nothing on this side [she points to her left side]. At the moment I have [pulls out a soft prosthetic from her left side of her chest] a soft prosthetic. It’s only 3 days post-op so I have a soft prosthetic that I put in and I have a dressing [shows the dressing on her left chest area]. In 6 weeks, once everything has healed, I’ll then be able to go and get fitted for the actual prosthetic and a proper bra that I can then use and sort of, see how that goes.