Today’s article is a guest blog from a friend who’s been through breast cancer in the last year. This topic is very personal to her and she naturally wishes to remain anonymous.
Identifying breast cancer
About a year ago I was in the GP surgery, idly looking at posters on the wall. One of the posters stood out. It was an image of an egg box with lemons in various different states e.g. lumpy, bumpy, puckered. The aim of the poster was to help people self- identify possible breast cancer.
I remember looking at the puckered one and thinking, one of my breasts looks a bit like that. When I got home, I had a look and a feel and realised I had a lump.
I ignored it for a couple of weeks. Like you do. After all, I was convinced it was probably just a cyst or something equally harmless.
However, I did eventually go to my GP about this and was fast tracked to see an oncologist at Addenbrookes Hospital. This wasn’t my nearest hospital, but it was the closest one that could see me at any time soon.
I think the medical staff knew straight away that it was cancer. And furthermore, they also found calcification in my other breast too.
The treatment and support at the Cambridge Breast Support Unit (part of Addenbrookes) was wonderful. Everyone was kind and supportive. It’s fair to say that never before have I received such love and care in a medical setting. My husband and I were buoyed up the whole time by the amazing staff. I was given a date for surgery within a few weeks.
Sharing my news
I think the hardest thing was not being able to discuss the situation with friends and family. Although I told my husband once I’d been to my GP, there was that initial lonely moment. Furthermore, my elder son was out of the country and I wanted him home before I said anything to him, his brother or anyone else.
Sharing the news with my sons was incredibly hard. As a parent one always wants to be a super human and not inflict their illness, or mortality, on their kids.
I went through surgery in July 2019. Thankfully, it was a simple operation. The surgeon removed the lump and I made a quick recovery.
Two months later, I received daily radiotherapy over a 3-week period at Peterborough Hospital. Once again, the care and attention I received from the staff were very good. This was harder to endure than the surgery as it went on for longer. Towards the end of the treatment I was almost becoming jittery because of the need to “lie absolutely still”. I managed it though!
Four months on and I appear to be fit and healthy.
I have changed aspects of my life. I have come off HRT as this fed my cancer and I now take anastrozole to reduce my oestrogen levels even further. I’ve had a bone scan to check my bones are strong enough.
Lifestyle wise, I no longer drink much alcohol, I’ve also stopped using anti-perspirant deodorant due to possible links with breast cancer.
These are all to prevent a recurrence of the cancer, and to keep me well.
I realise that I am very fortunate to live in this country, with one of the best health services in the world. There must be many people globally going through what I’ve been through, and worse, where the care is not so good.
I am also blessed with having a strong faith, which has really lifted me up. I have skipped my way through this last year and that’s largely due to HIM.
The next step will be annual mammograms for 5 years which I will have at Addenbrookes. The hospital is also keeping an eye on my left breast, which appears to have calcification in it, and then decide what to do. But that’s another story for another day.
I knew the statistics were high, 55,000 new cases of breast cancer are identified each year. However, I didn’t expect it to happen to me. Fortunately that poster in the GP surgery caught my eye. Luckily I bit the bullet and decided to see my GP about it.
Please, please, please check your breasts regularly. If you don’t know what to do, check out this guide.
Thank you for reading! For more on Age Life Balance, browse the blog at www.agelifebalance.com to find out more.