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‘By the Way, I Have No Boobs’

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.

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