Cancer has changed my life

Monday 14 February, 2011 by FRANNIE

In 2007 I found a lump in my right breast that was 2.5cm. The doctor I saw felt it was only a cyst I told her of our family history of breast and ovarian cancer, so she reluctantly agreed to my having a mammogram and ultrasound, but classed it as ‘non urgent', as I had a mammogram only 8 months earlier and was all clear.

I rang for an appointment and was told as it wasn't urgent it was at least a 3 to 4 week wait. I wasn't happy with this so got a second opinion and was booked in to have my mammogram and ultrasound, and possible biopsy, the next day.

After the mammogram and ultrasound a doctor came in to perform a biopsy, he then told me he had rung my doctor and made an appointment for me that afternoon to get the ball rolling to see a surgeon, as he said he was 100% sure it was cancer.

Four days later I saw my surgeon and booked in for my op the following week. It turned out in the time I had found the lump to when I had my op the tumor had doubled in size.

I had a high grade 3 aggressive invasive ductal carcinoma. I had a partial mastectomy and auxiliary clearance  of 15 lymph nodes. I was then given 6 lots of chemo, 3 weeks apart, and 7 weeks of radiation. After my 2nd dose of chemo I got an infection and cellulitis in the wound and was rushed to hospital - we all thought I was gone as I wasn't responding to medication. But finally I began to respond to the antibiotics. This was a very scary and awful time for us all. I now am into my fourth year since diagnosis and have another 12 months on the drug Toremifene, as Tamoxifen made me ill.

I am another person that is proof we can survive cancer. I am high-risk for secondary but I don't dwell on that, I just live life to the full and take nothing for granted - who knows what is around the corner? Cancer has changed my life and way of thinking. As awful as it, and treatment, is, I feel I am a better person for it.

I have made many new friends in our local cancer support group and am now helping other newly diagnosed people. I want to wish everyone with cancer much strength and good wishes. One day we will find a cure.

If you or anyone you know has breast cancer you may like to call the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20 and speak with a cancer nurse. We also have information on our website about breast cancer and breast awareness.

Updated: 14 Feb, 2011