My name is Natasha, and I was diagnosed with an aggressive Triple Negative breast cancer at 29.
My story starts before my diagnosis when, as a fit and healthy 20-something, I found a small lump whilst travelling in Norway with my husband.
Due to the pain I was experiencing, we went to the local emergency department where the emergency doctor was concerned enough to refer me to a breast surgeon and strongly suggested that I see them before we continued on with our holiday.
The breast surgeon I visited told me that he often saw young people with these ‘lumps’ and that he thought it was just a ‘cyst’ and not to worry about it, unless it continued to bother me and to then see someone when I got home, which was to be in 3 weeks’ time. Based on his recommendation and that he was a professional in a highly regarded country, I put my trust and hope in his direction and continued with our European adventure.
Upon my return home, my gut told me that despite the doctor’s indication it was probably nothing, something just didn’t feel right.
So I booked in to see my doctor.
Within a few days I was correctly diagnosed. The lump, as it turned out, was in fact breast cancer, and had grown rapidly, spreading to my lymph nodes in less than a month.
Having watched my Dad lose his own battle, with a rare cancer, at 54 years of age, I was not going to let cancer beat both of us and so I took this fight on as an opportunity to win for the both of us.
Following five months of neo-adjuvant intensive (double dose) chemotherapy, three surgeries (thus far) including a single breast mastectomy with implant reconstruction and axillary node clearance, partial ovarian tissue dissection followed by a mastectomy of my remaining breast with implant reconstruction and a course of radiotherapy, my treatment journey is over.
Today I am 31 years old and I am cancer free.
It is safe to say that this isn’t something I would want anyone to experience and so it’s incredibly important that I share my story to showcase how a cancer diagnosis can change a young life and to always, no matter what, follow your instinct.
For me, cancer has taught me to not to sweat the small stuff and that if something doesn’t serve me to let it go. I have also launched a platform called Studio B Health & Wellness, aiming to share knowledge and education for exercise prescription, physiotherapy advice and consultation, Pilates consults, and health and wellness coaching.
Cancer has also taught me to be even more pro-active about my health. It’s all about balance and finding a happy medium between everything. Most importantly, it’s taught me to continuously check in with myself to make sure I’m happy. I think it’s important to be your own cheerleader first before anyone else can hop on board your team, because if you don’t trust and back yourself then why would anyone else do so!
I’m so lucky to have a great support network, of friends and family, this experience has really shown who my true friends are – the ones who ride the waves with you (good and bad), not just choose to be there when it suits them. Cancer has definitely changed my perception of life and how grateful I am to be living, I feel like until you are faced with death on your doorstep you don’t realise how lucky you are to be alive and more importantly – to be healthy!
My advice to others is to remember that even after the worst storms, the sun will shine again. Anything is possible. Negative thoughts can be a slippery slope so try and maintain a positive mindset, introduce techniques like exercise, meditation and eating well to complement your chosen treatment path. And finally, remember to be kind to yourself