Member of the Month – March
When I was 24 years old a distant cousin contacted my family to say that at just 30, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and carried both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer genes. Considering that my grandmother had died at 52 from ovarian cancer, my mother went and immediately had the test. She was BRCA1 positive. My mother decided to have a hysterectomy and thank goodness she did, as they found pre-cancer cells. I had the test when I was 25 and found out that I to carry the BRCA1 gene. Over the next five years I had screening through yearly Mammograms and MRI’s at Peter Mac.
The anxiety and stress that I experienced worsened every year until I started to have debilitating migraine’s which would see me bed ridden for days at a time. These migraines became so severe that I eventually had what can only be described as a break down. I was diagnosed with stress induced psychosis and hospitalised for three weeks. I am certain that the psychosis was linked to the anxiety that I felt leading up to my screening. I was put on medication for two years.
Two weeks after I finished my medication, at the age of 30, I had my yearly MRI. Significant abnormalities were found in my left breast. I had a biopsy and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Stage 1-2 Breast Cancer. I had a bilateral mastectomy on Valentines Day this year (how romantic). They found 6 tumours in my left breast, and my surgeon estimated that the cancer had only been growing for between 3-4 months.
Surgery went well, and I am now on the road to recovery. I am almost half way through the six months of chemotherapy I have to have. I lost my hair, and I am very tired and lethargic for the first few days after each treatment, but I am getting there. I have found so much support by being connected with other girls in similar situations through Pink Hope. Without their advice and assistance, I don’t know where I would be.
Not only have they helped me with suggestions and tips on how to deal with chemotherapy, but I have built friendships that will last beyond this time in my life. I am so grateful for the love, care and support I have received from my husband, family and friends, and value each and every one of them. Being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30 is a terrible thing, but I will not let it defeat me. I am determined to turn something that can be seen as such a negative into a positive and make a difference. I hope to be able to help and support others the way that they have helped me in the future, and to become a positive role model in the community.
A message from Nicole
My mother and I both owe our lives to our beautiful cousin Lisa and the incredible girls at Pink Hope. Campaigns such as Bright Pink Lipstick Day encourage families to have those important conversations with each other about their health history. If Lisa had not contacted us to tell us about her diagnosis, I do not know where either of us would be today.
Pink Hope provides families with the knowledge and resources to take control of their health, and to be proactive by having surveillance or preventative surgery.
I have made so many beautiful lifelong friends through this organisation and I feel truly blessed to be a part of it.