Anne Hayden's Story
Hi. My name is Anne Hayden and I am a 60 year old woman with two adult children, and one stepdaughter and two grandsons living in the UK. I live in Devonport, Auckland, with my husband, David, boxer dog, and ginger cat.
I discovered a breast lump on 6 November 2004 at 2am. I knew immediately it was sinister. In this case, intuition was not a wonderful thing. Completely bypassing my GP, I took the first available appointment at St Marks, seeing Dr Jackie Blue. By the time she said she was "very concerned" about five times I'd got the message. This was reinforced by the core biopsy results being available the next day when they usually take 5 working days, along with an urgent appointment with the surgeon.
The surgeon confirmed the diagnosis, and gave me the choice of having a full mastectomy, with or without reconstruction. I chose reconstruction - the date was set for one week later. The diagnosis left me feeling dazed, but adrenaline and my ability to gather my support people around me, along with my wonderful husband, got me through the next week.
In those days it was not routine to tell people whether they were HER2 positive. However, I'd done some reading and when I saw my histology report post operatively I was able to put two and two together to make HER2. The impact of this did not sink in at the time.
Almost a year later, after I'd completed chemo I became aware of Nic Russell's plight, and started the Herceptin Petition. I thought perhaps I should try Herceptin as well. I tried for several weeks to contact my oncologist in the public health system, to no avail. Jackie Blue, who supported the Herceptin Petition, suggested I sought a second opinion.
Having chemo had been awful, I felt half dead for the first four days after each treatment. Then I'd feel well enough to make a batch of scones on the fifth day, and life would be okay again. In stark contrast, Herceptin, which I started 3 weeks after my appointment with my second oncologist, was a breeze. It was like having intravenous gold and hope combined.
I've stopped writing my funeral service since having Herceptin. I've also continued with my Herceptin campaign work, sometimes frontline and, more recently, behind the scenes. I feel absolutely determined to complete my PhD and have a positive attitude to life. I eat well and exercise regularly. I feel good.
My discovery of being HER2 positive was rather ad hoc, but that was in the early days. Looking back, I wish I'd had a resource like this website to help me through the experience. I am sure it will benefit the many women who have yet to travel the cobbled path of breast cancer. So I ask everyone who reads my story and the others that follow, to spread the word.