Hi there everyone. I’ve been silent here for quite some time but it’s not out of choice, you see I’ve had a lot going on that I needed to sort through. As a lot of you may have read on Instagram, life threw me a challenge. I have thought long and hard about whether to share my story here. It’s a scary decision because I want to protect my children from unnecessary anxiety and yet I believe strongly that I have a platform here to build a little awareness. So I ask you, if you do by chance know our children, please respect our decision to protect them and never mention this around them or their friends.
I think that we all have one of those life-changing moments at some point. For me it happened almost two months ago, I was lying alone behind the curtain on an examination table and my body was shaking uncontrollably. The thought, “this is not happening to me” kept repeating in my head.
It was a Monday and I had a mammogram and breast ultrasound booked in. I’m 41 and thought that now was the time to start with these regular checks. That morning my little boy had a sore throat and couldn’t go to school, I was close to cancelling the appointment, but decided to go ahead with it anyway and packed a bag with a couple of snacks, his favourite book, colouring pencils and paper to keep him occupied during what I thought would be a fairly quick appointment.
My mammogram was quick, the Radiologist wasn’t in to study the results until that afternoon and the next step was an ultrasound. I sat on the examination table, moved my arms up, down and placed them on my hips for the Breast Physician. The physical examination while sitting up, all looked good so far. I was asked to lie down and lift my arm above my head and there it popped out, a lump. She saw it immediately. So did I. I didn’t get it, like many women, I examine myself in the shower all of the time. How did I miss this?
This dark mass in the ultrasound measured to 2.5cm. I knew that quite often these things can be cysts, but I could read the concern on her face. I didn’t want to hear her answer, but asked her straight out if it looked like cancer. She put her hand on my arm and told me gently that it had all of the characteristics of it. I’m sure that she would have felt my heart pounding as she continued to roll the ultrasound around my chest.
We agreed to take some biopsies straight away and it was then when she left to get the nurse and prepare, that the shakes began. I’ve never felt so vulnerable or at mercy to life than I had at that moment. The only thing that I could think about was my children and Guillaume and the thought that I might leave them. Nothing has ever been so clear to me before, I turned my life upside down and shook everything out and the only thing that truly mattered was my family of five. My little boy was in the waiting room for what would have been a very long time. How could I walk out and face him without crying? It was unbearable. I had the darkest thoughts on that table that day and never want to go back to that place in my mind again.
The following month was a bit of rollercoaster. The first lot of results came back as a benign Papillary Lesion. By the time they came in, I had an appointment booked with a breast surgeon, as regardless of what it was, it needed to come out. The surgeon wasn’t convinced with the results, as these lesions are known to have nasties hiding in them. I went in for another mammogram and more core biopsy samples. They too came back benign. Thirteen (!!) benign core biopsies in total and we all agreed that it wasn’t too early to celebrate, there would only be the teeniest chance of cancer now. I was one of those statistics.
I had day surgery to remove the lesion and six days later, the evening before I was to leave for Sydney, I got the call from my surgeon. The pathologist found something. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is a non-evasive, early stage of breast cancer. I guess if you were to get a breast cancer, this is the one you’d want. The good news was that the cells were contained and hadn’t spread. I had been extremely lucky to have found it now.
It was a big shock and I was so busy in Sydney that I didn’t have a lot of time to process the information. It was good to be there with my family and friends but all I really wanted to do was to come back home and create a cocoon around me where I could eat healthy foods, explore yoga and ways that I could change my lifestyle.
As I write this now, and even though I was diagnosed with DCIS, which is not great, I look at how much better my situation looks than it did the day on the examination table. I’m not going to be fighting for my life. No one dies from DCIS. I have been so incredibly lucky. So many women out there haven’t been so lucky; I am very aware of this and think about them every day.
During this time, understandably I lost my voice for the blog. To be honest, there was a moment when I thought I’d give it all up and dedicate my life to cooking organic food and every waking moment with my children. But then over time I realized that this is my happy place and it’s important to me and feeling good.
I have more surgery coming up next week, along with weeks of radiotherapy, so I will be focusing on my wellbeing. For now I will just take each week as it comes and will blog from time to time. I’m not putting any pressure nor deadlines on myself.
Something that I want to stress to you is that I’m not sick, I have never been nor felt sick. I also want to focus on the positive and not dwell on this or talk about it all of the time. I believe that focusing on it is not good for me. I’m really okay and feel like I have a second chance at life. I am also taking better care of myself mentally and physically, which is a great gift in all.
I mentioned this in the beginning, but I’ll repeat it again because this is so important here. I struggled with if I should share this news publicly because I want to protect my children. While they are aware that “mummy is getting something fixed and will have some surgery and lots of doctors appointments”, we are not mentioning the cancer word as at their age they only associate it with the worst. They don’t need that anxiety. Please respect this decision of ours, and if you by chance know my family and/or children, I beg you to be cautious and don’t mention it around them or their friends.
In the end I felt that this is a story to share and hopefully encourage other women of all ages to be proactive with their testing. I am an active and healthy 41-year-old woman and they found an early form of cancer in my breast in a routine testing, I didn’t have any obvious signs. In so many cases, as it was in mine, early detection can save lives.
I am sending so much love and good vibes to all women who have experienced or are experiencing this.
Life is good. Much love to you all,