My name is Jess and I'm 33-years-old and originally from Spain but I moved to the UK nearly eight years ago. I got diagnosed just before Christmas 2016 at age 32 with breast cancer, they found a 11.2cm tumour ER+/HER- that spread to my lymph nodes 23/42 positive with vascular invasion. I had a bilateral mastectomy, 8 rounds of chemo (4 FEC + 4 Tax.), 15 rounds of radiotherapy and had my ovaries removed a few months after I finished my radiotherapy as I got tested positive for the BRCA2 gene and I wanted less oestrogens in my body.
My lovely C story started about six weeks after the birth of my son. On his post delivery check up for baby and mum, I decided to casually mention I felt a lump on my right boob. The doctor was brilliant and she referred me straight away to the breast unit where they checked me over, squashed by boob to a pancake for a mammogram and stabbed me twice with something that felt like a human biopsy stapler.
My journey was not very straightforward:
first - lumpectomy;
second - mastectomy;
third - discovered chyle leak after my mastectomy;
fourth - low fat diet to fix the leak;
fifth - another operation to fix the leak;
sixth - let's get chemo started;
seventh - Why on earth did I say yes to the cold cap?;
eighth - my other half leaves me before my last chemo for another woman;
ninth - radiotherapy;
10th - recover;
11th - oophorectomy; and
12th - HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018.
Well in 2017, I had the biggest lows but also the biggest highs. I have cried, laughed, shouted, and got my boobs out so often! Once they got evicted I decided to just mention to every doctor that I had to get undressed for "By the way, I have no boobs now." I don’t know why I say that! They must think I’m a weirdo.
What most of all helped me through this journey was my friends and family -- especially one friend who I met through Facebook when I got diagnosed. I was sobbing for days. I thought this is it, vascular invasion, my lymph nodes are involved, the tumour is so big. I won't see my boy grow up!
But this woman introduced to me went through breast cancer a year before and gave me all the tips in the world and huge support. We will laugh about how shitty I felt on each chemo. She also donated her chemo board to me. It was a big white board where you scale from 1 to 10 how rubbish or good you feel during chemo, which is very helpful to see a pattern that you could work with to organise nice things to do.
I have now finished all my treatments and hope for the best for the next five years while I’m on Tamoxifen. Hopefully in a few months, I will get to discuss my reconstruction.
For now, I shall get to enjoy the time I have and not think about the time I could possibly not have.
Laughing and being around kind people is my medicine, it works most of the time. But I do agree that sometimes I also have bad days where I overthink everything. But that is just part of the experience. It gets you to appreciate the good things even more.