I am 54 years old and six years ago when I was doing a breast self examination , I realised that something had changed in my right breast.
It had always been “harder” than the left but I had that checked years before. However, for the last few years, my GP had flagged the upper part of my right breast as an area to ultrasound after my mammogram.
I had started having mammograms at 45 paying for them myself as I had large breasts. However, mammograms and ultrasounds were always clear.
I had a few things to do first, as I expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, so a couple of months later I wasn’t very surprised to be sent for an urgent mammogram by my GP and to be told after a mammogram and ultra sound and core biopsy that I had a one cm tumour in my right breast. It was ER/PR positive and an invasive ductal carcinoma.
A lumpectomy later, with sentinel node biopsy, I was told the margins weren’t clear, the nodes were involved and my surgeon recommended a mastectomy.
I elected a bilateral mastectomy and after further discussion an oophorectomy, together with sentinel node biopsy on the left.
I was told and it was “confirmed” by a mammogram and ultra sound that I did not have cancer in my left breast.
However, surgery revealed a 6cm multi focal mass in my right and two minute areas of in situ breast cancer, both lobular and ductal in my left. I had 8/16 nodes infected in my right and was clear in my left arm. I was told by the surgeon that the cancer in my left wouldn’t have caused any problems for a few years!!!!!
I then had 4 weeks AC chemotherapy followed by 4 weeks docetaxol and 5 weeks radiation on three areas..my breast, my collar bone and the back of my shoulder.
Now I am on my 6th year of Arimidex.
My children were aged 15 and 17 at the time. It was a very worrying time for all of us. I had income protection insurance which I never expected to use. I took 6 months off work.
As far as I was concerned the cancer was trying to kill me and I had cut it out.
I now keep as healthy as I can. I did not drink alcohol for the first five years and watch my weight as immediate menopause meant that I now put on weight even easier than before. I started exercise right after my surgery and walk a lot. I believe that this is MOST important.