We have a weekend treat for you today: a brand new blog! Today’s guest blogger is the lovely Beckie. Beckie was diagnosed in 2019 when she was 26 years old. Beckie has written very openly for us today about her experiences from diagnosis, through chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy. Beckie is now using social media to tell her story and raise awareness of the symptoms of breast cancer amongst young women. You can find Beckie on Instagram @frombreastcancer_tonewnormal.
Here’s Beckie’s story:-
“My name is Beckie and this is my personal experience of going through breast cancer at young age.
In December 2018 I was with my new boyfriend and he found a lump in my right boob. He wanted me to get it checked by my GP but I wasn’t worried; I was on a birth control pill so I reassured him. I said, “Babe it’ll just be from the pill, as they can make your boobs change like they change when I’m on my monthly”.
Weeks went by I was starting my new job as Christmas Sales Assistant. I noticed yellow discharge coming out of my right nipple. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get in to see my doctor because it was Christmas season and everything was so busy.
So then 2019 came round. It was January and I was worried. I decided to ring my local GP but I couldn’t get through. I decided to take matters into my own hands and took the bus to the Walk in Centre. I remember filling in paperwork about what symptoms I was having and then I got called in to see a nurse. She asked me lots of questions: was I pregnant? When was my last period? Was there any family history of breast cancer?
I told her I wasn’t pregnant and I was due to start my period shortly. And I did have a family history of breast cancer. My Nan had had breast cancer but we weren’t aware of any genetic mutations or hereditary factors in my family.
Then the nurse asked me to walk to the bed. She drew the curtains so I could take my top off and bra and she examined me from my left breast asking if it felt normal to me and it did! She then moved to the right of my chest and she could feel the lump and then she could see my nipple leaking. Then she got me to sit up so she could feel my armpit to feel for any swallow lymphatic nodes and lumps. She asked for me to get dressed and sit back on the chair next to her desk. She told me that she would speak to my GP urgently as she was concerned that it was something sinister.
I received an appointment to be seen at the Breast Unit at Birmingham Women’s Hospital at the end of January.
I had another examination at the Breast Unit, similar to the examination the nurse had carried out at the Walk in Centre. I also had a mammogram, ultrasound and needle core biopsy to collect samples to see what was going on.
After all the tests, the doctors told me that whatever it was, it needed to come out! This made me think of all sorts – my mind was all over the place.
I received the results of all the investigations in February. The news was devastating; at just 26 years old I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer at grade 3 and stage 2. My doctors told me that this type of cancer isn’t fed on hormones. They said that sometimes this cancer is related to gene mutations, like BRCA1 and 2 and PALB2 so the specialist and my breast cancer nurse wanted me to have some genetic testing due to my young age. I received the results of the genetic testing later in the year – they all came back negative.
My doctors they said the cancer was treatable and curable as I caught it in time to have chemotherapy, surgery and then radiotherapy. The first step was to have chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumour.
I was also asked if I wanted to take part on a trial looking at selecting chemotherapy before surgery. (The ROSCO trial). I wanted to help with the research.
Lots of hospital letters started to arrive. In mid-March 2019 I started my chemotherapy. I had 1 cycle with 5 sessions for every 3 weeks. My last chemo was in May 2019.
My surgery took place on 14th June 2019. I had a single mastectomy without reconstruction. Some people have asked me why I didn’t want to have reconstruction. For me, I felt “what’s the point?” I was worried it might come back and they wouldn’t be able to see it until too late.
I didn’t mind being flat one sided – I’ve still got my left boob! I feel that boobs don’t define you as a person.
When I had the surgery, I also had 5 lymph nodes out to see if the cancer had spread. I received the results in July and fortunately all 5 lymph nodes were clear. No cancer cells! It was a major relief as I hadn’t had a full body scan when I was diagnosed. I also found out that I had had a complete pathological response to chemotherapy – I didn’t need a second cycle!
Then I started my last ever treatment which was radiotherapy. I had 15 sessions in total and my last session was in September 2019.
Now, in 2020, I can’t believe the journey I went through last year. I can’t believe I’m still free from cancer. I’m due to have my first ever mammogram following my diagnosis and I’m looking forward to celebrating the “all clear” after that!
My mission now is to share my story to help to raise awareness in young women and men of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.
I hope you all enjoy reading my journey, feel free to add me on my Instagram!”
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Beckie. You’re doing amazing work in sharing your experiences and raising awareness of the symptoms to watch for.