12 months on

primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 3,199
Tomorrow is my anniversary. My anniversary of finding my breast lump. A day I will never forget...as I'm sure most of you remember vividly. It wasn't a feeling of...oh is that different?  It was a definite obvious hardness just above my nipple. It didn't move. It wasn't soft. I knew the moment I felt it, it was cancer.

So I headed into work that day. I knew it was Xmas madness time. My first appointment cancelled so I took myself off to the Emergency Dept at the hospital I worked at as didn't want to wait days for a GP appointment. I knew I needed an ultrasound and biopsy quickly and that was the quickest way to get it.

So referral for ultrasound. The Dr pretended to be unconcerned...but later got me in for an ultrasound within 24 hours. She was concerned. I expressed my worry of the services closing over Xmas and this needing quick action. She listened.

The ultrasound day was one of the saddest days of my life. My sister in law was dying 300km away of endometrial cancer...we had been down a few days before, her condition had deteriorated and I said my Goodbyes on the phone to her, knowing she was unconscious but possibly still being able to hear me. Then I went for my ultrasound.

Nothing like the look on the radiologist face to give it away. She gets the Dr. Then there is the look between them. Oh...we can't really tell you it is cancer...solid black star like lump...but we will biopsy. 5 core biopsies taken. I went back to work...but went home as by this time I was a mess.

Of course the radiology report said highly suspicious of cancer. But no results for ever so it seemed. On the 22nd we drove the 300km to say farewell for the last time to my SIL. I was to speak...but when I got to the funeral service and saw her coffin...I couldn't,  I was a mess, and  kept thinking this would be me and my family soon. All the while keeping this a secret from all but my husband. They had enough grief.

So we stayed with them through Xmas. I put on my happy face, supported my niece and nephew, my brother and their families through a very difficult Xmas. Laying awake at night terrified of my future. 

So we return...no results back until the 29th. My husband was in denial...it might not be...stop worrying. But I knew. I knew the moment I found it. So it was a Es+pr-Her2+ cancer. I only saw her2 on pathology. I googled. Yes I googled. POOR PROGNOSIS....don't you just love those words. But I read. I understood treatment options. I understood recurrence risk. I knew I was facing a fight for my life.

So 4th January I head off to Adelaide. ..500km from home. Back to the hospital my husband and I trained at. I sat having coffee the morning of the appointment at the RAH. I hadn't slept all night. I was so anxious. I decided to do a mindfulness technique. I closed my eyes and listened to the breeze, the birds, the leaves, felt the light. Then it happened. I felt my Mum and my SIL around me. It was both their birthdays. Then I heard it. "You'll be alright. It's gonna be alright"

With that I felt calm. I went to that appointment calm. I was able to take it all in. Dense breasts. Unable to see in mammogram (clear 5 weeks beforehand)... due to breast density. Strong family history. Mastectomy was my choice. Surgeon suggested bilateral due to history and the very strong chance of BRAC1 gene mutation. I agreed and chose immediate delayed reconstruction.

So...the rest is history.
Bone scan, CT scan and breast MRI showed no surprises.
23rd January was my farwell boobie party called Dolly's Parting.
25th January was my surgery with sentinal node biopsy.
4th Feb confirmed...node negative
Within 6 weeks I start ACT-H treatment.
It was hard. I couldn't work but I came through.
Letrozole. ..bearable
Gene testing...negative  :)

So here I am 12 months on. I'm recovering steadily from chemo and surgery. I'm back working part time. I'm  still a bit more anxious than I'd like to be...but generally I'm  doing okay. Herceptin continues. My changeover surgery is planned.

Life is precious. I'm so grateful for this site to be able to connect with others on this difficult path. It has kept me sane on those dark days. It kept me busy supporting others just starting out, knowing how difficult this is. I look forward to 2017 being a year of joy. An end of treatment. Hopefully never to require more. But if it's not...I know I am strong enough, and you have got my back.
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Comments

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 3,199
    edited December 2016

    Here's to the best kind of new year for all of us - hope, recovery, optimism and joy.

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 3,199
    Well...A small glitch, couldn't comment ..but love that last line.
  • KatyJoyKatyJoy Rowville victoriaMember Posts: 122
    Congratulations Kath! What a journey you have found yourself on! I hope I can maintain your positivity and optimism over the next 12 months and beyond. I have had 2 of my 6 chemo cycles so far with hormone therapy at the same time, and if all goes to plan will have a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction next April +\- radiotherapy. It all seems so overwhelming but hearing so many positive stories here really helps. Happy anniversary, may you have many more
  • ccasperccasper Central Coast, NSWDragonfly Posts: 190
    Here's to a bigger and brighter 2017!!
  • KarenhappyquilterKarenhappyquilter Member Posts: 190
    It's a year since my surgery, I have finished chemo, radiation and now on Tamoxifen.  Some lymphedema in my arm and breast.  Still get quite tired, but doing ok.  Still working through the changes to my personality as a result of getting cancer and the treatment.  I am amazed at the courage and strength people show when faced with this.  We are a lot stronger than we realize.  Good luck.  Karen
  • ShareShare Member Posts: 217

    Well Kath - I bet that you will be so pleased to farewell 2015-16 !

    As the last year has been such a harrowing time for your whole family it is all still so raw and new and very present. Following on from my original diagnosis a fog would settle on me every single July when I knew I had to go for that yearly mammogram and ultrasound to see "if it had returned".

    I guess I am "lucky" in some respects that my I am still around all these years later following my early breast cancer diagnosis of 2003. It has allowed me to look back and reflect.

    Do I remember the actual day ? No, I think 30 or 31 July. I think the beauty of time has erased some of the painful memories (and don't worry, I have an amazing memory !).

    With my mbc diagnosis last year, it is still uppermost in my mind but as it was around my eldest son's high school graduation my focus was on him and his upcoming HSC. It all then came in waves.

    My hope for you is that you create beautiful new memories this Christmas and your current one's fade.

    Here's to a happy joyous Christmas and New Year Kath. x     

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 3,199
    @Share  Thankyou.
  • Jane_ElizabethJane_Elizabeth Member Posts: 122

    Congratulations on getting through 2016. I am pretty much on the same timeline as you, and am finding it a bit hard to define what I am now.

    Thanks for all your posts, too. They have been very informative, calming, and reasoned.

    I hope you have a great Christmas, you've earned it.


  • Michelle_RMichelle_R Gold Coast QldMember Posts: 866
    Happy anniversary, Kath.  That year of treatment is probably the longest year of our lives and so good to put behind us.  Like many others, I found my lump in the shower, between mammograms and shortly after a check-up.  There was a small bruise as though I had bumped into something sharp, with a lump underneath.  Things moved very fast then - biopsy, scans, mastectomy, chemo, rads and finally a hysterectomy.  It was a very full year - 2012.  In March I will have my 5th anniversary of finding the lump. As Alison says we come to terms with our mortality and live life with appreciation.  In the last 4 years I have been on safari in the Masai Mara, walked the Great Wall of China, and explored New York City - trips I would probably not have done without the diagnosis. I hope you have a happy and healthy 2017.  Michelle x
  • Liana_annaLiana_anna SydneyMember Posts: 42
    @primek
    Wishing you all the best for 2017 and yes life is precious...everyday that we get to spend on this earth is precious because everyday is once in a lifetime.
    Hugs, Liana xx
  • Pammy46Pammy46 Central coast Member Posts: 142
    Everything we do from day of diagnosis is a precious milestone 
    i too will never forget the day I found my lump and knew it was cancer even though my family all said it would be fine..I am 7 days post op feeling sore from the lymph node removal.. But grateful surgery is over 
    grateful that I got a good pathology report no lymph node activity and clear margins grade 1 tumours will enjoy this Xmas like no other 
    whilst my journey has just begun still have radiation to start mid Jan I feel strong and know I can get through it
    2017 the year of conquering 
  • wendy_h67wendy_h67 Member Posts: 343
    I hope you enjoy Christmas and wish you good health in the years to come ! Thank you for your support. Love Wendy
  • melclaritymelclarity Member Posts: 2,425
    @primek  Kath, thanks for sharing your journey and at the very least the celebration of being 1 year. Its a hell of a journey, and yet youve made it through, I guess it reminds all of us, how on earth did we get through? or alot of cases with ladies in initial diagnosis, how are we going to get through!!!! the strength is indisputable and surprising. I too am celebrating 1yr Anniversary from finish of Chemo...and its surreal looking back at the journey. Big hugs for a wonderful new year ahead! for the finality to your treatment and hopefully my last surgery too! Melinda xoxoxo
  • JanineGJanineG Melbourne (west)Member Posts: 73
    Wow! I doubt you would have imagined you had such strength Kath. Incredible where we draw it from isn't it. I'm sure I'm not the only one who shed a few tears reading of your cruel and sad year. 
    Well done
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