My name is Kelly and this is my story.
Back in 2009, I had a lump in my right breast which hurt, I went to the doctors, had it biopsied and it turned out to be a fibroadenoma. The doctor just said that because I had a few cysts in both breasts that it was okay and to just keep an eye on it and so that’s what I did. Every month when I was due to get a period my breasts would ache and become really sore and lumpy so it was hard for me to tell what was normal and what wasn’t.
In September 2011, I went to the doctor for a check up and she done the usual check and said to me, let’s get a mammogram and an ultrasound, I can’t feel anything and I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I was 27!
I booked in for the mammogram & ultrasound and after the mammogram I’d had enough, I wanted to go home. I have a small build and no one told me what to expect or how much they would hurt. I guess now my mum kept quiet because she knew that I would have walked out, had I known how much having a mammogram hurt. I then went on to have the ultrasound and all was going well until the last second, the lady just happened to go over the right side of the breast and just by chance happened to push the machine down and I said to her (her name was Julie) ouch that really hurt me, she went from being all smiley and happy to a facial expression that I’ll never forget, I knew as soon as I saw her face that I was about to begin the journey of a lifetime. She said to me that she had found something on the screen that didn’t look quite right but not to worry about it, she wanted the doctor to take a look at the lump on the screen, they decided to do a core biopsy and then I had to wait….
The next few days felt like time was just at a standstill, I had everyone around me telling me oh it can’t be cancer; it’s so unlikely that you would get it at your age, Kelly stop stressing and worrying; you are worrying for nothing etc… I had a gut feeling that it was cancer so I kind of had already prepared myself.
The doctor called me at home and told me I had to go in to see her tomorrow, she wanted to discuss my results with me. I remember talking about it all night I think I drove myself crazy. My mum said to me, there is nothing to worry about so I’ll stay home while you go to the doctors and call me when you’re finished. My fiance came with me and we were sitting in the waiting room and he was saying to me, this is silly as if it’s going to be cancer, are you worried? You don’t look upset. You do know that in 5 minute when your name is called we are going to walk out of here laughing because we worried over nothing and by now I was getting frustrated, I just wanted to know. I said to him, I know its cancer stop telling me that it’s not. At that second the doctor walked into the waiting room to call me into her office and not only did she look as white as a ghost but she had this blank look on her face and her facial expression said it all. I walked into the room and she asked me to take a seat and I remember that I couldn’t even sit, I was standing there and she explained to me that it was breast cancer and everything after that I paid no attention too. I was numb, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t think. I just stood there, my fiancé had tears in my eyes and I remember looking at him and thinking we aren’t married yet, we haven’t had a family, we had all these things that we wanted to do, how could I have gotten this, why me etc etc etc and I turned to the doctor and said “Am I going to Die? People get cancer and people die? And she stopped me before I could continue and said no Kelly; you are not going to die. It’s early and we have caught it and you’re booked in to the surgeon tomorrow at 6.45pm and she will explain everything to you. As soon as I knew that I wasn’t going to die, my whole attitude changed and I was like right lets do this! My fiancé drove us home and mum was sitting in the lounge room and because she could tell I hadn’t cried yet she said to me when I walked in the door, “see, I told you you had nothing to worry about and I got a bit teary and told her it was cancer, then we all had a cry and then I had to pull myself together.
I went to the surgeon with my parents and my fiance and I didn’t even let the poor lady speak, I was at her asking a million questions and she is like, Kelly stop for one second and breathe. I found out that my cancer Grade III infiltrating ductal carcinoma which was ER and PR positive and Her2 negative. There was one tiny cell that they found sitting on the outside of one of the lymph nodes they took but it hadn’t made its way into the cell yet which was a blessing in disguise. I was given my surgery date which was a week away and all my appointments were handed to me, Oncologist, Blood Tests, Heart tests to see if I was fit for surgery, tests to see if the cancer had spread. I was so thankful that everything had been booked for me, if I had to do it myself I probably would have delayed it as long as possible, not because I didn’t want surgery etc but I was secretly petrified. Everyone around me was freaking out and was devastated and I just couldn’t show that I was sad and that I was feeling really scared. I put a brave face on and stayed strong for my family.
Surgery day! I was kind of excited because I had now found out that the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else (I was over the moon about this) so I knew that once the tumor was out of my body then It couldn’t do any more damage and I could focus on getting better. I remember getting wheeled into the surgery room and I spoke to the anatheasist and then I don’t remember anything after that. I remember waking up on the ward and everything was dazed, I had the drains coming out of my breast and I was uncomfortable, I was actually kind of out of it and was fighting to stay awake while my family were there but they said I nodded off about a million times. It was about 2am in the morning when I kind of came too properly and I had something to eat and my best friend brought me in a few DVDs and mini DVD player so I watched a movie, dozed off again and woke up just as the sun was coming up. I remember sitting there, watching the sunrise and I had a little cry and then I remember feeling this sense of relief.
A couple of weeks later I had my first appointment with the Oncologist which went for about 3 hours and we spoke about all the treatment options and Chemotherapy was one of them. I felt sick to my stomach and was literally petrified every time that word was mentioned. I made the decision that I wasn’t having chemo and that was that. The oncologist and my breast care nurses tried to explain to me the benefits of it, why I would need it etc etc and I didn’t want a bar of it. I said I would do anything but have chemo and then the Oncologist mentioned that there was this test. I said to her, I don’t care how much lets do it. The test ended up being called Oncotype DX and it was a test that could be done for Breast cancer patients with ER and PR responsive tumors the only problem was that it cost $4000 and the tumor had to be sent to America because we don’t have the technology here to test it. I told her to get the paperwork ready and I would bring over the $4000 first thing the next day. The test ended up coming back below 16 which meant that if I had chemo it wouldn’t benefit me and my type of cancer. I felt like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders and was ready for the next step of treatment. I had 7 weeks of radiation and then started on zoladex injections. I have been on the injection now for almost 2 years and it has put me in menopause which hasn’t been very pleasant, but compared to what could have been I can deal with it.
Through out my journey I have felt a mixture of emotions; I have had people say to me that they don’t know how I can be smiling. I’ve had other people say, “well I am not going to cry for you”, I’ve had people that have just totally not got it, and I get people all the time saying your only 28 how the hell could you be going through menopause. I get people asking all the time when I am going to have a baby and why haven’t I had one yet. I have lost a very dear friend from this terrible disease and it shook so much out of me that I couldn’t face her in hospital on her last days and I was absolutely gutted when she passed and I couldn’t attend her funeral. She became like a second mum to me and I miss her every day. I get people who want to talk to me about it and then all they want to tell me is how many people they know that have died and then I get other people who don’t want to say a word at all, they don’t want to hear about it and they don’t want to know about it. Kind of like if I said the word cancer it’s like they thought they could catch it.
Breast cancer really does change you and if you let it, the change can be grateful!