HI, I'M ASHA, BATTLING WITH CANCER SINCE 2011
For years, I have served as a useful source to those seeking inspiration, help, or advice. I finally decided to own that role and be intentional about it.
I was first diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in May 2011 after a routine mammogram had shown abnormalities. After under going series of test, I had Lumpectomy, a surgery in which only the tumor and some surrounding tissues were removed, followed by 15 rounds of radiation therapy on each breast. After 4 weeks my radiologists gave me ok to travel. My husband and I went on a short break which we needed. After returning, I started getting burning pains, skin colour started to change where radiation was given and soon blisters developed. I was seen promptly by emergency doctor and treatment was given. I was well after few weeks of treatment. I had regular check ups by the Radiologist and was also referred to Lymphoedema clinic as there was a build-up of excess lymph fluid which caused swellings. Treatment was given at St Anns Hospice which was superb.
Getting back to normal after surgery took some time. It was important to take things slowly and give myself time to recover.
2 years later...
On one of regular check ups, my radiologist noticed some hardening of the breast tissues and was told it was fibrosis caused by a build-up of scar tissue. The fibrosis became severe, and the breast started becoming noticeably smaller as well as firmer. This was rare reaction of radiotherapy, which happened after several months of treatment. My surgeon suggested that I had to live with it, as surgery would be complicated. He would only operate if other major organs were affected. I had learnt to leave with it.
7 years later, February 2018
It all started with a small rash just above my breast which I thought was a insect bite. However that was not the case, on going to my GP for another matter I showed it to him. He immediately realised that this was more serious than an insect bite and straight away did an urgent referral to the hospital for further examination. I was given an appointment to see my previous consultant surgeon within a week. Not knowing why? I was given an appointment soon , appreciated the NHS service.
On appointment day, he examined me and straight away wanted me to have mammogram and ultra sound scan. He did sound concerned, after the results so did the punch biopsy (A punch biopsy uses a circular blade to get a cylindrical sample of skin tissue). After all this I was worried and wanted to know why I was going through all these test? He modestly explained his concerns and told me not to worry as it might not be anything, but it is better to be safe. I had to book another appointment in two weeks time to discuss the results.
On the day of the appointment, my husband and I were waiting for my turn to come and there goes the fire alarm and we had to vacate the hospital. I still remember, it was a cold winters day and we were out shivering for more than an hour.
All the appointments were delayed and our anxiety was increasing. At last we were called and when I saw the Macmilan nurse, healthcare assistant and the consultant together, I knew it was not good news. Yes the biopsy was positive and he told me that I had a rare cancer due to side effect of Radiation and I was shocked that was given to me after my initial treatment of cancer in 2011.
This was the beginning of one treacherous journey. Soon many thoughts started flowing and the first was why me again?
I was admitted to Christie hospital for aggressive surgery which is standard care and involves mastectomy to obtain wide margins. Unfortunately margins were not enough and had to be re operated after 10 days. During both the operations skin grafting was done and that was not easy. It is impossible to cut the skin without scarring of some degree and they are painful. ... Yes I will have to live with two scars.
My wounds are healing slowing, I have regular follow ups and Xrays.
All seems to be fine now, I have learned that my body will continue to surprise me in so many ways as it has in the past. I have learned that even though a doctor might tell me something, there is always another side to it.
I believe in miracles and always believed that someone is looking upon me and giving me a helping hand to move forward.
"You can’t control everything in life, so embrace the adversity and dig in even further to drive a positive outcome".