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October is breast cancer awareness month, and today we have a guest blog from Jazz. She shares her experience of breast cancer, from diagnosis through to her incredible fundraising efforts after treatment.
"I'd love to do a blog" I said, and I would!"I've got so much to say" I said, and I have!"Go on then Jazz, you've got 500 words!"Aha, ho hum, hmm… I'll begin at the beginning:
In the summer of 2009 I found a lump in my left breast. Well I didn't just bump into it, my nipple had looked wrong for a few days. It was pulled down to one side, I'd been thinking 'I must check that' and after a few days I remembered to do just that. That's when I found the lump. It was huge, actually it was about the size of a plum and in a 34B that is MASSIVE! I'd been checking my breasts regularly since I was 18 so it was a shock, there was no pain and I felt fine. The lump had appeared so fast and was so big that I was sure it was nothing to worry about.
I went to my GP who referred me to a breast surgeon "…to be safe" and so I took my needle phobic self, alone, to that appointment. The surgeon felt the lump and sent me to have a mammogram and an ultrasound scan. I noticed that he was following me and I became a little edgy. I started to panic when he said that I needed to have a core biopsy, that's a chunky needle! My eyes were leaking as the technician took two samples from the lump, the leak became a trickle when the surgeon said he'd like to biopsy my lymph nodes and a waterfall as the fear of needles and the results began to dawn on me.
I had a cup of tea with a lovely nurse and then drove home to my lovely young family. I was fairly sure that my lump was quite sinister and tried to prepare my husband and parents for the result. To my daughters, who were 11 and 9, I explained a little about the tests and what they could mean and said we'd have to wait for the results.
A couple of days later I returned to the breast surgeon - with my husband - and was told that I had grade 2 stage 3 hormone receptive, invasive lobular breast cancer that had spread to my lymph nodes. Wow!
Three weeks later I started treatment. I had a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction (DIEP flap) using tissue from my stomach to reconstruct the breast, followed by six months of chemotherapy and then 5 weeks of daily radiotherapy. I took tamoxifen for two years, I had an oophorectomy (removal of ovaries) and my drugs were changed to exemestane.
When my treatment finished I contacted Macmillan and became a Cancer Voice. I review publications and leaflets, and attend focus groups to discuss new projects. I received an award this year for volunteering with Macmillan for over 5 years and had a wonderful time at the annual conference.
To celebrate my 5 year cancer free anniversary I joined a Macmillan climb of Ben Nevis. Last year, along with a group of friends, I held our first annual coffee morning and raised over £1,200 for Macmillan.
It's very important for my health that I am able to help others and I've been involved in setting up two cancer support groups: one with my breast surgeon and another with my employer. We received fantastic help from Macmillan when setting up the support group within my place of work.
To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.
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