Hello

Hi

i have just recently been diagnosed with primary breast cancer. I am 49 years old it’s all been very much of a whirlwind. I first found a lump after checking myself one night after hearing the news of a family friend who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. I booked in straight away to see my Dr who in turn referred my to the breast clinic. Even though it was only a 2 week wait it did seem to drag. My appointment day came and I had an examination and scan and a biopsy as they weren’t any available appointments for a mammogram. I had to wait another 2 weeks for the results which ironically were due on my birthday. On the results day I was told the lump wasn’t cancerous but I wasn’t out of the woods as I needed a mammogram. My family and I were so relived but I still couldn’t relax until I had my mammogram. The next day I had my mammogram and another scan. The Dr wanted another biopsy as she said she could see a large calcium mass in my right breast. I had to wait another week for my results, this time the news wasn’t as good and I was told the mass was cancerous and I was booked in to have a mastectomy in 2 weeks, I was booked in for a CT scan a few days later to check the cancer hadn’t spread. Luckily the cancer hadn’t spread but they wanted to do another biopsy on my lymph nodes. I unfortunately would only find out the results the day of my op, which happened to be yes I had cancer in my lymph nodes. My op was a success and I came home that night. My family we’re amazing especially my sister who stayed with me for the week. It was a roller coaster of emotions I struggled with my drains and couldn’t look at my breast area. It is now 10 days after my op, I feel great now but still obviously sore but I’m up and about even went shopping yesterday. I go back to hospital next week for my results and if I need further treatment. I know I still have a way to go and still struggle with my missing boob not sure when I will get reconstruction done I suppose it depends on if I need further treatment.

I was wondering if anyone has a similar experience?

Love

Zoe xx

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Comments

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 760 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Hi Zoe,

    I was reading your post, thank you so much for sharing it with us. It reminded me so very much of my own experience. You have been through a lot in a very short space of time, it certainly is a whirlwind, very accurate description. My GP, when he met me after my diagnosis, said those very words at the start of everything. I am very impressed you have been out shopping 10 days after the mastectomy surgery, wow, that is amazing!! Are you booking in for physio at all to help with exercises etc?

    Your experience is similar to mine in that at first I was also told no cancer. I originally went to see my GP, who referred me to clinic straightway, due to my family history it was 'fast-tracked'. So there we are with the consultant, I had one boob bigger than the other (by a mile 😂), and a swelling under my armpit. She said lets get an ultrasound straightaway, and a mammogram. Then an almost throwaway sentence, but I caught it 'It's quite inflamed isn't it'. Well, after that my knees went from under me, my hubby had to almost drag me down the corridor to the ultrasound place, where I was told, oh no, lady who does it is off. Come back in a week! 😂.

    I am laughing now, but then I was terrified, because a year earlier my friend had died of inflammatory breast cancer!! It was a long week!! When I returned, the sonographer/radiologist did the ultrasound, and said 'no nothing here' I said 'what's the swelling then?', she said 'I don't know, nothing, will take a biopsy just to check' Didn't tell me that was going to be painful!!😖. But she did say ' Look see, this isn't cancer (showing me!), I am 99.9% sure you do not have cancer'. Had to qualify it just in case, you know. But she said go home, you are fine, you don't have cancer. We were overjoyed!

    Had to return a week later for results, but because everything had come back normal, no point in both of us going, especially as we had a school meeting to attend. So I was going to pop down, get results, arrive at school a bit later. In the afternoon, a thought fleetingly crossed my mind. Thankfully, I was aware of it enough to act on it, it was that we should both go to the hospital, we can catch up on school stuff later. How glad was I!!

    I had the last appointment of the day, funny that! haha! A young girl before me came out smiling, I looked to my husband saying 'see it's all good'. Our turn!

    It's another consultant, then a nurse comes in and sits down.

    After introductions etc, blah, blah, 'So Mrs Johnstone, I am very sorry to tell you, you have breast cancer' WHAT??!!! My reaction was that, just completely NO WAY!THAT'S NOT TRUE! YOU HAVE SOMEONE ELSES RESULTS! I repeated everything I had been told by the ultrasound Dr, this Dr said 'we know, everything came back normal, except when pathology got hold of the biopsy they found cancer cells'.

    They found cancer in the lymph nodes! Looking back my reaction seems so funny, but they must get it so many times. I am laughing now, I wasn't then. 'Lymph nodes? That is the worst place surely?' Where else had it gone?

    This is where the breast cancer nurse was brilliant...her first words were 'Well lets hope they have done their job' I never knew that! Dr went on to tell me, I would start chemo immediately, have a mastectomy then radiotherapy, all planned out, dates and everything. Although all the results had come back clear, I was to have them re-done along with MRI's, CT scans, but chemo would start regardless. No waiting, or messing around. So an hour or so earlier, I was thinking, after this go to school, get dinner etc. Hope the girls are doing their h/w …. now...chemo! cancer! One of my next sentences was 'I don't do sick!' (I don't! Not even my children's when they were little and ill.) No, noooooo. 🤣.

    Chrissie( the nurse) said they had really good anti-sickness drugs, I remember saying 'you will let me have them won't you'.

    After that it was what do we say to the girls etc, that still is so horrible. The single worst day in our lives.

    Eventually I said, 'Well ok then, if this is it, lets do it, I am driving to France in July, it all has to be done by then, we're not cancelling it, it's paid for!' And that was the start....

    Three years later (tomorrow is my anniversary of completing treatment), I am here, with no cancer, it has been mostly up's with a few down's, not surprisingly, but I have been to France three times since, Florida, and we are back to France again in the summer. Oh yes...I wasn't sick once!!😀

    I didn't have reconstruction in the end, I decided not to, I am not bothered by only having one boob now.

    Zoe, I hope you continue to make a brilliant recovery from surgery, if you require further treatment, you hang in there. It is possible to get through it, and if it gets rid of the cancer, it's worth it. It is great you have a wonderful family supporting you too. You are very welcome here, there are many others also diagnosed with breast cancer, so I am sure you will find a lot of understanding. Even where the cancer is different, everyone is very friendly and supportive. Please feel free to come and chat anytime, or feel free to message me.

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 570 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Hi Zoe

    I am so sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. It is good that you have found us and that you have already heard from Lou who has been through so much and emerged cancer free.

    This is a lovely friendly Community. We may have different cancers, but we are here to support and encourage each other and you are very welcome.

    Rob x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 570 ✭✭✭✭

    @Sunshinedaff

    Hi Lou

    Happy anniversary for tomorrow. That is a really significant occasion and I trust you will be enjoying a little noggin or two. 🍷🍷🥳🍾

    Rob xxx

  • Zoe1970Zoe1970 Posts: 6

    Thank our both Lou and Robert. Lou congratulations on your 3 year anniversary and thank you for sharing your story with me. I am feeling a lot more able to do things around the house, well I have to as living with 2 children is a constant tidy up! To be fair they have both been good, pegging washing out, changing bedding, hoovering up etc... I have an appointment on Wednesday with my consultant which now I am nervous about, but I just have to go with the flow. I took all my dressings off tonight advice I thought I was ready to see my scar and no breast. It was quite a shock and I have cried some tears. I know it will get easier with time but I am really struggling looking.

    Zoe x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 570 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Hi Zoe

    How good to hear that your children are being so helpful and supportive.

    Of course taking your dressings off must have been a shock and I think that you are very brave.

    Good luck with your appointment on Wednesday.

    Rob x

  • Zoe1970Zoe1970 Posts: 6

    Thank you Rob x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 760 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Hi Zoe,

    It is hard at first taking dressings off and seeing scars etc. I expect there may still be some swelling too and the stitches and scar will look very prominent. It will go down and the scar line will reduce or become less prominent. At some point in the future perhaps you can think about reconstruction, but that is a way off for now. Crying is good, so much happens when you are diagnosed and sometimes we don't always manage to express emotions because of trying to be brave etc, but tears are good, they give a little bit of release as long as we don't stay in that place. As Rob has said we are here to support you whenever you want or need, or just for friendly chat.

    So pleased to hear your family are so helpful and supportive, yes, jobs are never ending with a family aren't they! I expect your children are wanting to help you, at least this is something that they can do to help ease the burden.

    I hope your appointment tomorrow goes well and is informative for the way forward. Let us know how you get on.

    Hope you are having a better day today.

    Lou xx

  • Zoe1970Zoe1970 Posts: 6

    Thank you Lou yes definitely having a better day. Hope you are having a good day.

    Zoe xx

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 760 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Good morning Zoe,

    Thank you, it was a hectic one, but hey ho! Back to it again today. Exams in our house, so having to tread through that gently.

    Will be thinking of you today at your appointment.

    😊

    Lou xx

  • Zoe1970Zoe1970 Posts: 6

    Hi Lou

    Its exam time in our house aswell, my son has his last one next Friday so think we may go to the seaside for a few days.

    Got my results back this morning, all the cancer was removed, however they still want me to have chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone replacement. I may be eligible for a trial but won’t find out until 2 weeks.

    Zoe xx

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 319 mod

    @Zoe1970

    Hi Zoe,

    So very pleased for you your results were so positive in removing the cancer. That is such good news. I know you still have further treatment to get through, but at least you know it is going in the right direction. You can get through this next stage, just one day at a time, step by step. But for today, celebrate! It is good news!!😊. I am really happy for you.

    You have exam pressure too, my girls both had exams during my cancer treatment too, it is amazing how resilient our children are. I hope your son has great success with his studies. Two weeks left for us.

    I can't stop smiling for you! Yay!😀

    🍾🥂🌈🎉

    Lou xxx

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 570 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Hey Zoe

    How great is that. We just love it when a community member gives us good news. It gives us all a lift and I am so pleased for you.

    Well, I guess you still have the chemo, radiotherapy and hormone treatment to cope with, but you can do that, and as Lou said, Celebrate today. That trip to the seaside will be so much more fun for you and for your son. You both deserve it.

    Rob xx

  • Zoe1970Zoe1970 Posts: 6

    Hi Lou and Rob

    Thank you for your positive words. I have a long journey ahead but I will get there, I think it is still such a shock as this time 2 months ago I was completely unaware of any cancer and had a carefree attitude.

    Regards

    Zoe xxx

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 760 ✭✭✭✭

    @Zoe1970

    Oh yes, I totally understand that. Your world changed overnight, there is nothing that can prepare you for that news, even if you had a suspicion. The shockwaves keep going for a long time. It is overwhelming sometimes and our minds can hardly grasp the reality of the situation even though we are in the midat of it. You might find that it isn't until after you have completed all your treatment that you are able to properly process everything and work it through. But also look at how much had hapoened in that time. The speed at which you have been diagnosed and had surgery etc is really good.

    We are here any time you want to talk, sometimes it isn't always easy to talk with family or friends. You know here you can say anything without worrying about upsetting anyone.

    I hope you are having a good afternoon.

    😊☀️🤗

    Lou xx

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