Newly diagnosed - how to cope?
Hi everyone, there are so many inspiring stories on here and lots of support. I know that many on here have it way worse than me but I just wanted to reach out and say hi and get some advice on coping with what’s ahead. This is my story - I was diagnosed with stage 2 at the start of December having found a lump randomly while doing the ironing! I’m not even sure what made me go there – maybe an add on the telly – who knows. I'm 44, have 2 girls aged 3 and 8 and am (or at least was) happy and healthy. I have previously lost a kidney to cancer at age 29 and am 15 years out from that so was really hoping that would be it for me with cancer. I also work in cancer research so know a lot about kidney cancer and melanoma but not a whole lot about breast cancer but on the plus side it also means I have access to surgeons and medical oncologists in the building where I work. I've had a lumpectomy and was originally told that due to the size and no apparent spread to the axilla I might just have a lumpectomy followed by radiotherapy and tamoxifen – no mastectomy and no chemo. After the surgery though I was told there were 2 small satellites and some isolated tumour cells in an internal mammary node so that even though I still remained stage 2 they said because of my age the treatment may be a bit more aggressive so chemo was on the table aswell as menopause inducing drugs and aromatase inhibitors. I was told that if I had the money I could do the Oncotype test to determine whether chemo would be of benefit or not. That was one of the hardest consults I’ve had to go through. I was in total shock. I saw a medical oncologist yesterday and we went through the works. His treatment suggestions without the Oncotype were 4 cycles of chemo, followed by radiotherapy, then 10 years of tamoxifen. Otherwise they can induce menopause and I go on aromatase inhibitors for 10 years. With the Oncotype we may get an answer as to whether chemo is of benefit or not and the chances of recurrence. I have a real issue with becoming menopausal at my age with a 3 year old. They are 2 things that were never meant to co-exist! I don’t want to go through chemo unless I need to so we decided to do the Oncotype and use the money we’ve been saving for a car. At least we can know we are making the right decision. I am weirdly ok with the cancer part as I have been there before and survived and feel lucky the breast cancer has been found so early. I can put the chemo out of my mind for now as it is not a certainty. What I am struggling with is basically the whole thing but specifically the thought of 10 years of drug treatment. Again I know things could be a lot worse but that’s what I’m finding hard to deal with. I was thinking of going to a councillor to help me deal with it and most of all accept it. How have you ladies got your head around this? I am into exercise and meditation and I need to work on making sure I plan this stuff into my day everyday but it’s hard with the 2 kids but will give it a red hot go as you Aussies say! I’m from Ireland and have lived here 19 years and I am very grateful that the health system here is so good. It’s already saved my life twice. Thanks for listening.