According to most research, one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives. We spoke to four local women about their battle with the disease and how they’re fighting back.
Two years ago, I felt a discomfort in my chest at night. I went to the gynae and she recommended going for a mammogram. The tumour was hidden behind my sternum. The doctor said it had probably been there for nine years, around the time my son was born. I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. It was metastatic, meaning it had already spread to the bone. They removed the primary tumour and my left breast. But there were cancerous lesions in my ribs, spine, hips and neck. The treatment will continue for the rest of my life. I’ll never be able to say I’m cancer-free. Some areas are reacting well to the treatment; others aren’t. Every four to five months, the treatment is changed as my body becomes immune to the drugs.
It all happened so quickly. On Saturday my husband picked up the lump, on Monday I had the mammogram, on Tuesday I had the fine-needle aspiration (biopsy) and on Friday I had surgery to remove the lump. Because the cancer was aggressive, the doctor advised me to start chemo after the op. That was my intro to breast cancer. Thankfully, it was caught early at Stage 1B. I felt a little more settled once I understood what my options were and what the possible side effects would be when I read the breastcancer.org website. It equipped me for the journey ahead.
In June, I noticed a lump above my left breast. My gynae sent me to have a mammogram and ultrasound, both of which were clear. The radiologist suggested I have a biopsy, even though my tests were clear. Five days later I was told there were cancerous cells in the lump. I had Stage 1 breast cancer – it was scary. There were a lot of tears initially. I was angry with life and God. It felt as if I’d lost control. My surgeon gave me the book Be a Survivor: Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment by Vladimir Lange. It left me feeling very positive. I thought, I have two options: I can have a pity party or I can remind myself that life must continue. I chose the latter.
Last year, I was in the kitchen making supper. I heard this insistent voice in my head, ‘Sarah, check your breasts.’ Later, I lay on my bed and felt my left breast was lumpier than my right one. The doctor said my breasts were typical for post-lactation. She did a needle biopsy and said everything
was fine. But I knew she’d missed it. I went back and saw a different doctor. Her reaction was much more dramatic. She wanted me to go for an ultrasound, a mammogram and a core biopsy. The biopsy showed that I had Stage 0 cancer, which the doctor said was good news, but I was shocked.
Read their stories in the October issue of your Club magazine.