Firstly, I'd like to say WOW!!! & Thank You!! What a fantastic network of such lovely, supportive people!! (you don't find that too often on forums)
I have only just found this network about a week ago & have been scouring the posts & finding all sorts of useful info. So I thought it was about time I joined up...in case I want to, you know, actually ask a question or comment...and not just feel like a stalker!!
Just a warning, I do tend to waffle on a bit, so this might get a bit longwinded!! Sorry in advance Here goes...
I am a 46yo self-employed hairdresser living on the south coast NSW. I am married & have 2 kids (23 & 22) from a previous relationship.
2 months ago (10.11.15) I was diagnosed with early breast cancer....hmm...has it really been that long?
I have stage 1, grade 2 ER+, PR+ & HER2+.
Since diagnosis I have had a lumpectomy + sentinal node biopsy, then 2 weeks later a 2nd surgery to get the clear margins we all need. Thankfully the nodes were all clear. I will start TCH chemo for 18wks & continue on Herceptin for the rest of the year. After TCH, I expect to start radiation for 5-6wks.
Although I feel bloody unlucky at times, I also feel VERY lucky that I have caught this nasty early.
I went to my GP in September & said I want to have a few health checks done...I'm on the wrong side of 40 & want to make sure this body of mine is gonna last the distance. So he gives me a refferal to Brestscreen, along with some others, & off I go for my 1st ever mammogram. About 5yrs previously I had an ultrasound, as I was getting a bit of pain in the right one. Apparently, this was caused by fibroids. So when I got the letter to tell me they wanted another look, I wasn't worried....they've just picked up the fibroids & want to make sure..right? NO!! There's something in the left one & we want to do a biopsy....What!!?!
It's funny really, I was so relaxed about going for the 2nd scan. Telling myself there's probably nothing to worry about, it's just the fibroids...and even if there is, what's the point of worrying, until I know there's actually something to worry about! Then they wanted to do a biopsy! I walked down the hallway from the councellor's office trying to hold back the tears, telling myself " hold it together, all the other women are in the waiting room, probably going through the same as you & you don't see them blubbering like a baby!". So by the time I got there I was sort of ok. Till I saw my mum, that is. I sat next to her & said " they want to do a biopsy" & that was it & I lost it ...just a little bit. Thankfully there was a lovely older lady there who said to me " ohh are you upset love?" I just nodded & said I was sorry & that I'd been so good up until now...till they wanted to do a biopsy. I only cried for about 30 seconds, just that release of the stress I was trying to pretend wasn't there I suppose, but i gotta say, I felt like a 5yo at the time! But really it ended up being such a good thing. All of the ladies then started talking to each other. Before that, my head was in my phone, another in her laptop, 1 a book, another a magazine. Basically, everyone in their own little world, trying to deal with the stress & worry of what we were all there for. Once the ice was broken, we all had a really good chat about all things breast cancer. I even felt comfortable enough after having my clinical exam by the breast surgeon to come back to the waiting room & announce quietly " well that wasn't so bad...he was just a bit hot!" Giggles all round! I suppose this type of connection of the disconnected is one of the reasons this network is such a good thing & why I wanted to join. Worries shared can be worries halved.
A few days later, I went to my GP for the results ( I live 1 1/2 hrs from the breastscreen clinic & didn't want to travel that far for results) & that's when life as I know it changed.
My GP sent me to a surgeon in Sydney who specialises in breast cancer (so good living in a small town & your GP is a mate & plays golf with your dad - you know he's going to send you to the best he knows!) & 2wks later I had my 1st surgery. Another 2wks & I was in for my 2nd surgery to acheive the clear margins we all want & need.
So now I'm sitting here, having spent a lovely Christmas with my family, waiting for the dreded chemo to start on 15th Jan. I'm not looking forward to it....who would?!! But I'm going to keep telling myself it won't last forever & I will come out the other side with very dead cancer cells.
My best friend (who I'm lucky enough to have living through the gate in my back fence) told me of a lady she knew who went through chemo years ago & she visualised the chemo drugs going through her as the old 80's pacman, running around chomping up all the cancer cells. I think I might try that one!
Although I get worried at times (- how sick will I get? Or will I be one of the lucky ones who breezes through? - will my business survive my absence? - will I go through all this crap, just to have the cancer come back?), I do feel extremely thankful to live in age where early detection can make such a difference & my prognosis can be quite good. I have said to many people over the last couple of months that I feel lucky to have found it early which allows me to be very positive that I will still be alive & kicking 20yrs from now.
So there it is...the beginning of my turn on the merry-go-round. Hope I didn't bore you too much...I did warn about the waffling (must be something to do with being a hairdresser & being able to talk under water with a mouthfull of marbles!!)