I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2013 at 58. My diagnosis didn’t come as a big surprise, because my sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer five years earlier.
The day I was diagnosed I was very calm and I was thinking about how difficult it must have been for the doctor to tell me. Once told, the first words that came out of my mouth were, ‘How will this affect my daughter?’
I had the lump removed and then had seven weeks of radiation therapy. For a long time I felt like a bit of a fraud when I read other stories about women who have endured more intense treatments and are left with emotional scars. I got away with breast cancer relatively unscathed – all I have to show for it is a 6 centimetre scar on my left breast.
I kept my emotions in check all the time because my husband, who has depression, was upset about the fact that I had cancer and I felt I had to be the strong one. However, I would not have been so strong if he wasn’t there by my side the whole time. He was at the diagnosis, he went to every treatment with me and he is with me when I have my annual visits with the specialists.
For a long time after the treatment ended, I was very paranoid about the slightest twinge in my breast or a pain that had just occurred. With the assurances of my specialists, that paranoia has subsided.
For all those out there who have felt like I do – you are not alone.
I now look forward to the day when they say, ‘You are five years clear and we don’t need to see you again!’