Danielle’s Story

Posted in Personal Stories 08 Nov 2016

Danielle Richards (5)

My name is Danielle and this is my story.

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Grade 2 breast cancer last year, I was 26 years old. I had no family history of any cancer in the family at all. We were shocked and puzzled.

I then had a lumpectomy, I was sped through IVF and then received the results that I would need a mastectomy. My sister was due to get married in Fiji three weeks after my diagnosis.

After my IVF treatment wrapped up I flew to Fiji the next day after my egg collection surgery. I was sore and confused and fearing what I was coming home to. In two weeks I was going to lose my right breast.

So we had the wedding and it was nice to not think about the “demon.”

As I was wheeled into my mastectomy surgery my surgeon asked me how I was. My response was “cut it off its trying to kill me” and from that moment on was when I went into fight mode. On the inside it was tearing me to pieces but I didn’t let that show. It needed to be gone, I needed to live.
I recovered from this surgery quite well.

And I was given two weeks to recover and then the dreaded C word was about to start. I was fortunate I was able to have scalp cooling therapy to help me keep my hair.

It was torture.

I remember after the first night of chemo I felt a change in my body. It started to destroy me from the inside out. I called my mum and dad and started crying. I didn’t know what was happening to me.

It was after my fourth round of chemotherapy that my family feared for my life. I had a temperature of 39 degrees and my partner rushed me to the emergency room.
My blood cultures were taken and I was given antibiotics immediately. I started to feel a slight uncomfortable feeling in my lower abdomen but I wasn’t until I was admitted to hospital the next morning that I knew what was going on – appendicitis.

The surgeon came in to see me to let me know he was going to perform an emergency appendectomy. My heart rate was through the roof and I wasn’t in good shape.
My appendix had burst, and they were gangrenous.

I stayed in hospital for about a week and thought I was going to get a holiday from chemo. Much to my despair I couldn’t let chemo go – so the following week I went in and I was 4kgs lighter than I already was at a tiny 48kg.

I finished chemo on the 7th of January this year. It was one of the greatest days of my entire life. I did it.

Soon when I recovered I started radiation therapy. Radiation therapy was a smooth and burning process. It made me tired and my poor skin was destroyed. However compared to chemo it was a breeeeze!

I went back to work during my final week of radiation therapy. Our office had a complete turn over and a friend who worked in our Sydney office was promoted to our boss and she promoted me in my position.

Now I wait for a reconstruction. I plan to get this done privately and I don’t fear how much it could potentially cost. I came back with a PTEN gene mutation that started in the womb. Mum nor Dad came back positive with the mutation so it’s just me. I will do whatever it takes to never sit in the chemo chair ever again, to be alive and to enjoy my life.

I endeavour to push young women’s body awareness and hope to inspire others with telling my story.

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