“It has been three years since I first held my breath as the doctor confirmed my very worst fears.” We learn one woman’s breast cancer story.
Can you tell us about your experience with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in June 2015. The lump was 27mm when it was discovered. I considered myself to be in the prime of my life. Work was going well, my husband was finding success as an artist and my three boys (then aged 21, 18 and 15) were my pride and joy.
I had a mastectomy and reconstruction, followed by chemotherapy over sixteen weeks. Since then, I’ve been taking daily hormone therapy and low dose aspirin.
Nothing prepares you for discovering you have breast cancer, or the awful ramifications – telling your family, undergoing major surgery, filling your body with poison – it makes losing your hair seem like a walk in the park.
How has it affected your quality of life?
Taking daily medication reminds you every morning that this day is different from the first 54 years of your life. You could be enjoying a family event, giving a presentation, or telling a joke, when the thought bubbles up in your head: “What if the cancer has come back?”
It’s difficult pretending that you’re living an ordinary life, when in the back of your mind you know that cancer could be growing inside your body.
Why is personalised treatment so important for the future of breast cancer treatment?
It has been three years since I first held my breath as the doctor confirmed my very worst fears. So far, I have had no obvious recurrence. I have to take drugs every day now to suppress the hormone that feeds the cancer.
The treatment gives me hot flushes, but if it keeps the cancer at bay, it’s a small price to pay. It’s likely I’ll have to take prescription treatment for ten years – but even that is good news if it means I am still here!