Hey, my name is Becksy and I am an instructor at FRAME. In this blog, I am sharing my experience with Breast Cancer to raise awareness. I have also included some helpful tips, helplines and resources which helped me with my diagnosis.
My Breast Cancer Story…
I hadn’t had much experience with Breast Cancer before my own diagnosis. That all changed in August 2019, when I found a lump on my right breast. To be honest, at the time I didn’t check myself regularly, I just happened to feel it when I was getting dressed one day. I then went to the GP who then referred me to St George’s hospital where I had a mammogram, scans and a biopsy. Two weeks later I went in for my results. I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Breast Cancer at the age of 29, two weeks before my 30th birthday.
Around a month later I started my treatment, first it was decided that I was to have an operation to try to remove the tumour. I was fortunate enough that it hadn’t spread to my lymph nodes which meant that it was unlikely to have spread throughout the rest of my body. After my operation it was decided that I would have chemotherapy, however before that, I was offered to have fertility treatment to freeze my eggs in case of complications in the future due to treatment. This was a 2-week process of hormone injections and lots of hospital visits. I never thought I would be told at 29 that I have cancer let alone potentially there being a chance of not being able to have children due to treatment. At this time there was a lot to take in and not a lot of time to process it all.
After having a successful surgery removing my eggs I then started my course of chemotherapy. This was spread over a 12 weeks period having a session every 3 weeks. This was probably one of the hardest times during treatment. Hair loss and fatigue were just a couple of the side effects from the chemo and even though I am so lucky to have an incredible support system around me at this time I felt very lonely.
After I finished my course of chemo in January I was waiting to start radiotherapy. For me, radiotherapy took place every day Mon-Fri for 3 weeks. Going into the hospital every day became my routine, it became my normality. I finished my treatment in March 2020 just as the pandemic was starting. Going through treatment is just one part of it. So much else changed too, I stopped work, I moved out of where I was living, my day to day routine had become something completely different. After treatment was a strange time too, of course, I was so grateful to be out of treatment but I also felt very lost. It took me a while to find my feet again and to try to process all that had happened within a year. I had so many emotions during this time, gratitude, guilt, anger, happiness! What really helped me through this time was talking, journaling, walking/running and having patience with myself. My journey was rocky, physically and mentally it was challenging however ultimately I know just how extremely lucky I am to be here today writing this and sharing my story. It has taught me so much about myself, about life and has changed my outlook on so many things.
Signs and Symptoms you should look out for are:
- Change in skin texture e.g. puckering/dimpling
- Lumps and Thickening
- Nipple Discharge
- Nipple inversion and change in direction
- Swelling in armpit or around the collar bone
- Constant/unusual pain in breast or armpit
- Sudden change in size or shape
- Rash or crusting of or around nipples, I would say regularly check so you get to know your boobs/pecs and get confident with what is normal for you.
Remember to check – You could always set yourself a reminder on your phone or Coppafeel has a service where you can sign up for a free monthly text reminder service. You just have to text BOOBS to 70300.
Here’s a list of helplines/services I found helpful.
This is a podcast that I found so helpful during my journey, they cover so many topics and I liked that I could listen to them whenever I felt like it. They cover things like family, chemo, food, exercise, sex and so much more. It was a space that I could go to feel understood and also a great one for friends and family to listen to to get a better understanding of what their loved one is going through
This is a great place to go if you want to understand more about breast cancer, the signs and symptoms. COPPAFEEL.ORG
Trekstock is a charity that supports young adults with Cancer. They helped me so much and offered things such as yoga, group fitness programs, meetups and more.
One tip that I would give anyone that has just been diagnosed with breast cancer is…
Use the support that’s out there whether that’s charities, friends or family. Be open that your treatment plan may change, I really struggled when I was told I would be having chemo as that wasn’t originally what was discussed that I would need. I think if I was more aware that treatment may differ from what was planned first I would have found it easier to accept. The biggest one I would say is to BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Listen to what your body needs and do things that make you happy, you are still YOU.
One tip I would give to anyone who knows someone who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer…
Understand that one day that person may want to talk about it and one day they might not want to talk about it, and it’s ok to ask them if they do or don’t want to talk about it! It’s a really hard time for friends and family too and if you feel like you need support there is so much out there for you too, don’t be afraid to ask for it from charities, support groups, or loved ones.