Clare ~ My Breast Cancer Story

20 Aug 2021

“You’ll need to see a surgeon” were the few short words that I will never forget and which changed my story. With my husband by my side, I looked at the doctor and smiled when I asked if I was going to be OK. I then heard the words yes, we found it really early and that’s the best news in this situation.

I had no history of breast cancer (any cancer) in my family, I was 39, hadn’t found any lump, and felt fine but unfortunately, a part of me was very sick.

On March 28, 2017, I was diagnosed with infiltrating ductal carcinoma and it changed my world, but the diagnosis was not the beginning of my journey.

It all began on February 8, 2017, I had jumped out of the shower and was drying off when I noticed a thick-ish brown liquid on my right hand. I looked around wondering what I had touched (looking for rusty things or brown liquid) but nothing seemed to match what was on my hand. Something made me stop and look into the mirror, at which point I noticed the liquid dripping from my right nipple. My head started spinning as I knew this could not be good.

Three weeks earlier I was wrestling (as you do) and playing in our small apartment with my then 7-year-old son who wanted to be carried like a baby chimp. When he went to stand up his head cracked me in the right boob and it hurt so much it rocked me to the core. I felt the pain deep into my breast. Doctors couldn’t definitively confirm if this discharge was from the ‘trauma” or the cancer. Either way, the pain from the knock and the discharge took me to the doctor. One day I will tell my son he potentially saved my life.

After noticing the discharge from my nipple I called my GP and made an appointment for two days later and I am so glad I didn’t “wait to see if it happened again” or just ignored it completely because things could have been quite different.

Having no lump and no history made diagnosis a long process - no one could wrap their hands around anything so after a rather traumatic mammogram, ultrasound, extra-long MRI, blood tests, and a biopsy (which reminded me of an apple corer) they gave me the news. By the time I heard the words “you have cancer” I was so ready for it - my husband, who had been a power of positivity, fell apart.

Surgery followed by six weeks of daily radiation and endocrine therapy was my treatment plan - once I had that plan it’s what I kept my head focused on but, I also had an amazing lady guiding me through every stage of the process as she had been through it before. She will never understand how much she helped me.

So my journey began, I had surgery within two weeks of my diagnosis and I remember my first day of radiation like it was yesterday. I nearly threw up as I was so nervous. What brought me peace and comfort were the ladies in the waiting room with me. I met so many (too many) amazing, young, old, strong, and beautiful women and it really made me understand just how common and non-discriminate this dreadful disease is.

Three years on and still all clear, I suffer deeply with scanxiety but feel grateful for the team that treated me, the nursing staff who guided me each day, and for organisation’s such as Pink Hope that do all that they can to help patients and their families face their reality.