Hi, My Name is Paige and I am 31 years old.
I am a midwife, a mumma to 2 beautiful boys and a breast cancer survivor!
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2018 (1 week prior to Christmas) at the age of 29. To say I was shocked would be an understatement! I had no family history and I was young. I first noticed a slight dimple in my right breast for a while when I put on deodorant after a shower, but brushed it off as a stretch mark after having babies, it suddenly grew bigger and I had started to experience sharp stabbing pain in the right nipple. Something just didn’t sit right with me so I booked in to see the GP to be checked out.
The GP performed a breast examination although was unable to feel a lump, she reassured me it was most likely nothing but to have a breast ultrasound because I had skin changes. I went along and had the ultrasound the next afternoon. Three days later after more appointments, a mammogram and breast biopsies, I was sitting in my breast surgeons office receiving the news I had breast cancer.
I had 2 tumours in my right breast and was diagnosed with stage 1 grade 3 (highly aggressive) triple positive (HER 2+, Estrogen+, Progesterone+) invasive breast cancer. Over the next 14 months I had my sentinel lymph nodes removed from my right side, was put into a chemically induced menopause, underwent 3 months of weekly chemotherapy, had a double mastectomy with implant reconstruction and 12 months of 3 weekly herceptin immunotherapy infusions. I will take tamoxifen for the next 5 years and will have a few more breast reconstruction/fat grafting proceedures.
I also had genetic testing to find out if I carried one of the genes that increase your risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. Although my genetic testing came back negative, the genetic doctor explained they are still searching for more genes, so donated my genetic sample and I joined the VIP: variants in practice study to hopefully find more genetic links and help young women in the future.
I really struggled mentally, physically and emotionally throughout my breast cancer treatment. Although my amazing partner, my family and friends were there to support me and hold my hand, I still felt very lonely and my self esteem plummeted. As much as they tried to understand, I couldn’t explain how it felt to go through menopause in my 20’s, loose my breasts that fed my babe and live with the fear of recurrence. I found support in groups like pink hope, I have made some amazing friends with other women who have walked similar paths to me. I have also found comfort in reading other women’s stories and how they love themselves and their new bodies.
Now that I look back on my breast cancer journey I can see how much I have grown as a person. I have changed so much! I have realised how incredibly strong and brave I am. I have learnt how a simple act of kindness can make someone’s day. I have realised that you only have one life so live in the present and live your life the way that makes you happy. I am so grateful and so blessed to be able to be with my partner and watch our 2 boys grow up, I thank my lucky stars everyday.
My advice to other women is to just be kind to yourself! and do things to make yourself feel good! meditate, exercise, love your body and take it one day at a time.