By SAMANTHA YOUNG
Six months ago, I was sitting with a friend outside on a balmy summer night and a mosquito bit me under the arm. I went to scratch the bite and felt a lump on the side of my breast.
My doctor sent me for a mammogram, ultrasound and fine needle biopsy. The results were initially inconclusive. I found this out waiting in the queue to see Father Christmas at a large shopping centre with my seven year old. I could feel the fake Playschool Mummy smile stretching my face beyond reasonable limits as I rescheduled another ultrasound and biopsy. For that one, they had a Pathologist on stand-by. I had breast cancer.
I am a 44-year-old single mother of two beautiful girls. I am also director of a psychology practice and self-employed. The day I was diagnosed was the day I lost the carefully constructed control I thought I had mastered over my life. Previously I has successfully juggled many balls in the air every day. And suddenly they all came falling down in a spectacular heap.
I strongly believe in salvaging good from bad but I struggled with finding the silver lining in the diagnosis. The fear and anxiety waiting on test results to find out if the cancer had spread were crippling and I was haunted by dark thoughts of death.
The bone scans, bloods, MRI, X-rays and other various tests were rushed through and I was given the imaging DVDs to take to my surgeon with no reports. I sat one night with a medical student friend and a bottle of wine and opened the scans one by one. “Oh my God, what is that?” I would ask my friend and she would reply “That is your heart. Normal to have a heart, sweet. Did you study biology ever?”. Part of me was sure I was going to die, and soon.
I was lucky. The cancer had not spread. The tumour was contained and I had a genetic test done that showed minimal benefit from chemotherapy assuming I had lumpectomy surgery, radiation and then take a hormone drug called Tamoxifen for the next 10 years. I have completed the radiation which entailed daily visits for six weeks.