“My name’s Gill, I’m a 57 year old breast cancer survivor in the UK and here’s my story.
I had historically suffered with hormonal cysts for a number of years and, as such, was regularly monitored. I started my mammograms earlier than the regular age of 50 in the UK.
I had large breasts and the mammographer once described them as ‘dense’ (which was the first time I’d heard this term). Another mammographer also stated that I had ‘busy breasts’. Due to my history, I was always very keen to carry out checks and self-examination and thank goodness I did.”
In October 2016 – 6 months after having a clear mammogram, I discovered a large lump in my left breast. My heart sunk as I had a feeling that it was different to any of the hormonal cysts I had experienced. Following a visit to my GP, he immediately sent me to our local hospital’s breast clinic. Here, to my absolutely shock, I was diagnosed with a high grade DCIS (28mm) Invasive ductal carcinoma.
Some of the feelings I went through on diagnosis were fear and disbelief. As a fitness freak, who was generally healthy and not overweight, how could this happen to me? How was I going to tell my elderly mother and my three kids?
I had my operation, which was a left breast wide local excision and SLNB plus therapeutic mammoplasty. I also had a right breast reduction (symmetrizing), together with removal of 5 lymph nodes.
The results of the biopsy showed that the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes but that it was Grade 2, ER8 PR7 HER-2 1+ The biopsy was then sent to California for an Oncotype test – which, based on my Oncotype Score of 34, meant that I would require Chemotherapy.
I started Chemotherapy on 13th January 2017 and had 6 rounds of treatment. I lost my hair after the 2nd round and already had a short, swingy bob wig waiting to wear – preparation was everything!
In May 2017, I started Radiotherapy and was finally finished in June 2017. I started Tamoxifen and will have been taking it for 4 years in the summer.
My family and friends all agreed that my positivity during and beyond treatment rubbed off on them too. I continued to exercise and work, which has helped tremendously.