My life before and after diagnosis of breast cancer
I was a working mother always busy with work and family. I was healthy, played badminton regularly with my friends and had a good family and social life.
When I turned 50 the letter came through the post for routine Mamogram. I thought it was pointless to go as there was nothing wrong with me and surely I’d know about it if something was wrong? So I left it, but my husband persuaded me to go as there was no time to cancel the appointment and he did not want it to go waste.
After a week or so I got a letter to go for a second test as they were not sure of the results. Me and my husband went to the hospital thinking that evert thing was going to be ok. We met the radiologist who wanted to do some biopsy of the lymph nodes as they had found some tumors which were cancerous. It was a shock and I replied, please do what you have to do as there is no option but to move forward. My lymph nodes were clear. I had a lumpectomy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, but narrowly escaped a course of chemotherapy.
My family and friends have been amazing in helping me get through this. It was a worry, knowing I’d have to tell them everything, but I couldn’t have gone through it without them.
After my surgery I decided to do something which I was interested but for reasons not percievering it. So started a correspondence course on Jainism, the religion I follow and decided to go for a masters degree course rather then a certified course.
I felt like I was given a second chance and I’m going to make the most of it. I also thought I’m now more aware of just how good life is, so wanted to make the most of it. Since cancer, my life has changed completely and had a great impact on my life physically and emotionally. Everyday was a challenge as something new would come up and I had to face bravely. It then became part of my life and unknowingly I had accepted it.
With full support from my husband and family, I started doing voluntary work for many organisations. I could work from home and at my time. Cooking was my passion but due to lymphodema it was restricted. Our son was getting married and the family was worried about my health so protected me by not allocating any responsibilities. Then I came with the idea of taking the responsibility of planning the menus for all the functions and compiling a favour book to give to all the guests, which will remind them of the wedding and cook food which they had eaten there.
It was a hit, so after the wedding I started work on my second cook book to raise funds for the hospice which helped me a lot. It was a success and started giving cooking demonstrations, talks, holding tasting events and selling at fairs with help of my husband, children and friends. All was going well untill….
I had been disease free for Seven years after my first breast cancer was diagnosised, a until a small spot changed my life. My GP on examination new that it was not an ordinary spot and straight away urgently referred me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with Radiation induced Angio Sarcoma of the Breast.
The first cancer was terrible enough and now again!
Telling my family about this new diagnosis was difficult, but felt they needed to know what this diagnosis entailed. It was a rare cancer and needed specialised treatment as it can be aggressive and can spread fast.
My consultant had to refer me to Christie Hospital due to the nature of the cancer. It was difficult to get an appointment though it was referred as urgent by the consultant. Meanwhile my previous radiologist at Christies requested me to come and see him. Whilst talking to him we mentioned of not getting an appointment, we are afraid and anxious about what will be done. With his help I was seen by the surgeon in a week and a date for operation was given. On meeting the surgeon he explained me the procedure which was not straight forward but there was no other alternative. I was nervous and upset by my family stood by me and calmed me down. I was putting my life in his hands and I trusted him.
I was scheduled for a aggressive surgery which is standard care and involves mastectomy to obtain wide margins. The care I received at the hospital after my surgery was excellent. The nurses controlled my pain and made me feel that I was not alone. My family took help and guidance from our doctor friends who stood by us at all times day or night. They explained us everything in simple words and were mediators between us and the surgeon.
After eight days I was sent home under the care of District nurses and GP. They all were very supportive. The battle I was fighting inside could only be won by me with positive attitude and determination to move forward. I was reoperated as margins were not enough, which I reluctantly went through. But with families support I managed to gather myself and started my new life.
Within weeks I had to start physiotherapy and Lymphoedema therapy. I have to regularly do the treatment otherwise I am full of aches and pains.
My surgeon regularly sees me, and I don’t take my health for granted. I encourage others not to put off seeing a doctor if you notice changes in your body and to get preventive testing, It really could be a life-saver.
My first anniversary is coming soon and all seems well, two years are critical for me. I am remaining positive and hoping for a normal future.