Because I have always (well, almost - especially since children & breast feeding) had lumpy, painful (particularly at ovulation) breasts, I started taking myself off for mammograms from the time I was 40. Just every 2-3 years. From the beginning, the results were always "fibrous tissue seen". Prior to leaving Perth (Dec 2007) I had an ultrasound, with the result "fibrous tissue evident. Suggest mammogram." So, a couple of months after arriving here I had a mammogram. Result..."fibrous tissue seen. Suggest ultrasound." At this point I put it on the backburner! Possibly not the best decision I have ever made!
Fast forward to October 2010 and I organise my bi-annual check. You know, bloods, BP, glucose and of course mammogram, particularly as there had been some change in my breast shape over the previous months. All the results were good except I was recalled for a repeat mammogram (often happens in peri-menopausal years) as there was "fibrous tissue seen. Inconclusive result". So, back I went and had a repeat mammogram, an ultrasound and a needle biopsy (bloody painful!). All these results came back inconclusive! In fact, the needle biopsy actually said "No malignancy seen". I later found out that my breast was so fibrous the needle bent! However, the ultrasonographer was not happy and pushed me to investigate further. So, it was off to the surgeon to have an 'Open Biopsy' (or partial lumpectomy) to find out definitively what was going on. It was at this stage that the cancer cells were identified.
It was three days before Christmas,when I got the results and still I wasn't too worried. I figured if it was that hard to find then it must be well confined so I would just get my breast off (it had served me well) and continue on with my life. Sugery was booked for 13/01/2011 (after the christmas break) which was ages away, so I just got on with enjoying Christmas and the holiday we had planned for Sydney. Of course I told work (as I had to be taken off the roster that was already out) and we planned and had a great night out to farewell my Left Breast.
It was also during this period that my Dad died peacefull in his sleep. So, with Christmas, the funeral and the Sydney trip, the time passed quite quickly. But also very slowly - I had visions of this thing growing in my body! But at least I had to think of other things so it wasn't quite as all consuming as it could have been. I remeber it was a very weird time. I even said to someone that time seemed to take on a very strange feel. Almost surreal in that it went so fast and yet dragged by. Very weird.
After surgery it was just a matter of waiting for the pathology results, although, as the surgeon thought my lymph glands "looked suspicious", he had done a Level 2 clearance (that's about as clear as they go). A very good decision on his part as the pathology results revealed. In the meantime I had told the boys to straighten me up if I started leaning to port (or is it starboard?) which they duly did.
The final pathology results after this subsequent operation were all good. I then met with the medical oncologist. Initially Andy & I found her rather distant, but since then I have got used to her way and am very happy with her and the treatment regime which includes seeing her before each session of chemo to make sure I am OK with side effects and to work out what she can do to lessen them. Anyway, we worked out a plan of action (or rather she told me what I am doing with my life for the subsequent 6 months). I had a session one day every 3 weeks for 4 sessions -drugs ussed were Doxorubicon and Cyclophosphamide . This took me to Easter when I rewarded myself, and my family, with a trip to NZ for a couple of weeks. I then started the next round which is weekly for 12 weeks (Paclitaxel). I am now half way through that lot.
I'll have a three week break between chemotherapy finishing and radiotherapy starting during which time I am going to Sydney with my sisters to see Mary Poppins live on stage! Another reward! More on that later....