I’m Kathryn and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the end of December 2019 at 39. I live in Devon in the UK and have a 3-year-old daughter. I finished treatment in mid-August and have no active disease. I have a blog at www.chronicwarrioress.co.uk and am on Facebook and Instagram as I have other medical conditions which the treatment has exacerbated so I like to blog about them on occasion!
I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the grand old age of 42. Having been called a geriatric patient when having my daughter at 39, it was refreshing to be considered a young patient this time around.
I had six rounds of chemo, I was due 18 but my body screamed “hell, no.” Fortunately what I had worked, despite my tumour being 7cmx3cm and in my lymph nodes there was no sign of it on the MRI, it could not be seen after three chemos – my miracle.
I had been set on a double mastectomy initially due to the grade and type of tumour, my thoughts were of reducing risks in the future but with operation options limited due to Covid and as I’d had such a good response to chemo I decided to opt for the lumpectomy.
The day came around, I am well versed in hospitals and operations so I wasn’t very nervous, in fact I quite like the anesthetic because it means I finally get some decent sleep. You don’t get that with a toddler around.
Everyone has their own way of coping with hospital appointments and visits, understandably many people have been upset not to have family and friends in with them during treatments and to hold their hands. Personally I welcomed the solitude and the time to read, listen to music and no small talk.
On arrival I was given my sexy stockings and gown to put on then had to do a pregnancy test, wee samples are always fun. Why is it so hard to wee on command?! And why can’t they just accept that no I can’t be pregnant because I know how to make a baby and have not done anything like that for a while because I’ve felt like shit going through cancer treatment. Having managed to wee in a pot -- and on my hand -- it was time to change into the new outfit, having washed my hands of course.
As I undid my bra I heard a thud, that doesn’t normally happen when I take my bra off. Had my boob just fallen off pre-empting the operation, I checked, nope both still there. I looked to the floor to find a plastic toy cat, Chloe, one of Grace’s Secret Life of Pets toys had somehow got lodged in my bra. I suddenly laughed hysterically, the other two ladies on my ward may well have feared they were confined with a mad woman, especially when I tried to explain why I was laughing -- that didn’t help my cause.
I had to give up breastfeeding when I was diagnosed and Grace took to "boobie snuggles" instead where she sticks her very cold hands down my top. I can only assume the boobie snuggle before me leaving for the operation included Chloe cat and she forgot about her and left her in my bra. How I didn’t feel a three-inch toy in there I shall never know.
Now I was dressed in my refinery and had my lucky cat on guard. It was time for the wire localisation procedure. I hadn’t been looking forward to this one but found it mildly amusing to find myself being wobbled about in what felt like a 1970s medical chair with wheels and steering to match the worst wayward shopping trolley.
I had to be maneuvered to the machine at an angle that allowed for my breast to be put in the grip of the vice and squeezed very hard. Interesting fact, if you were recently breastfeeding before a mammogram, milk will squirt out all over the machine as the vice like grip takes hold.
The next bit was pretty painless, I had been expecting worse. Before I knew it the wire was in, then came the job of trying not to poke myself in the eye with a wire sticking out whilst being maneuvered again for another scan, I’m pretty clumsy at the best of times. They checked the imaging and then I had to have an ultrasound to ensure the position was correct. The doctor was extremely pleased with himself having hit the bulls-eye, i.e. the wire went straight through the middle of the titanium hoop, which I must admit is a pretty impressive shot when going through a boob and no vision of the target as you shoot!
Next was the op and then I was waking and time for tea and toast, how does an anesthetic make tea and toast taste like nectar from the gods?! I had a drain in and was a little sore. I needed the loo but didn’t feel able to walk, my legs were like lead and would hardly move so a commode it was. I know I’m struggling when I agree to a commode. I’ve been in trouble with nurses when I’ve unhooked myself to go to the loo as I haven’t wanted to use a commode and then discovered it’s not such a good idea as gravity no longer keeps the drip working the way it should. I learned it's sometimes best not to upset the nurses in this way.
I had been due to go home the same day but my obs were not playing ball so me and my cat finally got home the next day. I decided a bit of TikToking would make for good arm exercises.