Our names are Fran and Christine, we are twin sisters and this is our story.
My journey began in May 2005 when I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). My breast surgeon (Teresa) had only seen a limited number of cases before. So my journey began with three months of chemotherapy to a full mastectomy plus all lymph nodes being removed which were all cancerous. Then being told I needed more chemo plus I was HER2 positive. So I was lucky enough to receive the trial drug Herceptin which I am still on today.
I also had 5 weeks of radium which left my skin so sore and burnt. To this day the redness is still visible. I also suffer from lymphoedema which has resulted in numerous hospital visits for cellulitis and bandaging.
I have been tested for the BRCA gene mutation which came back negative but there is certainly a gene fault in our family.
Our grandmother, mother, myself have all had breast cancer and which took our mother at 51. Now my twin sister after ten years from my diagnosis has had a preventive mastectomy as she was showing signs of developing cancer. Also our father had kidney cancer which took his life at 46 and last year I had a tumour removed from my right kidney which was cancerous. I have a daughter who has a very high risk of developing breast cancer so I will continue to get the message out there.
In March last year at my yearly checkup at Wesley Hospital I had a needle biopsy after my mammogram and ultrasound were done which showed papillary lesions. It was then necessary for me to go to Dr. Teresa Nano who performed two wire biospies. After receiving the results, I made the decision due to our strong family history, to have a Bilateral Subcutaneous Nipple Sparing Mastectomies with Tissue Expander reconstruction, this was done in August last year and the implants at the end of November.
I am pleased that I did what I did as I believe cancer would have got me at some stage.
I also have a daughter who has a high risk of developing breast cancer. Treatment has come so far in the past ten years since my twin sister was diagnosed which is wonderful.