I had just turned 32 and life was pretty perfect. I had a gorgeous 15-month-old baby boy, a loving husband, I had just started working part-time again, and was about to buy a house. Life was brilliant.
I had just finished breast feeding, so thought it normal when I felt a lump in my breast. I sat on it for a month until I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and get the doc to check it out while I had my son in for conjunctivitis. Two scans and three doctors’ appointments later and my worst fear was confirmed.
I had breast cancer.
Invasive early breast cancer in one breast, a dodgy mark in the other (which turned out to be a benign fibro adenoma) and under my arm, cancer in a lymph node. Next came a blur of surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, a load of drugs, reconstructive surgery and being told I would need 5-10 years of tamoxifen (hormone therapy – which is like having PMS constantly).
I must say I dealt with chemo and radiotherapy pretty well. I was offered an easier version of chemo to save my ovaries as it turned out my tumour was very small (1.2mm).
Losing most of my hair was pretty horrid, but I think my brain helped me cope as I thought I had more hair than I did. Only looking back at photos now do I see that I had very little (in my brain I was sort of rocking a crop/pixie do – it was NOTHING like that, but thanks brain for the false confidence, it got me through!).
Watch: Could you recognise the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
The things that really helped were my incredible family. They were always there whenever I needed them, at the drop of a hat – quite a feat considering one lot live in country Victoria and one lot live in London!
My friends were amazing, delivering food and helping out with my son, and work was so supportive as well, allowing me time off whenever I needed it (working felt good – some normality in the craziness).
In a way, breast cancer has given me the opportunity to be the best person I can be…
I took up meditation (something I had always wanted to do) and started really working on myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I did everything I could possibly think of to be the happiest I could be, in a not-so-happy situation.