In February 2015, at the age of 80, I was diagnosed with a small (stage 1) early breast cancer. I had surgery in March 2015 and then had radiotherapy. My breast cancer was hormone positive so I was prescribed Arimidex tablets and told to take one daily. Unfortunately, this tablet did not agree with me – I was having chest pains and was told to stop straight away.
My husband of 62 years was now in shock more than I. He took me for a six-week holiday overseas to Malta. I saw a lot of my school friends over there. A few of them had breast cancer and were taking tamoxifen with no side effects.
When I returned from my trip, I went to see my oncologist and I mentioned tamoxifen and was put on that. This tablet also did not agree with me. This time I ended up at the Royal Melbourne Hospital with blood clots in my left foot, and I was told it was coming from the tamoxifen. I mentioned it to my oncologist and was put on the last tablet that he could prescribe, which was Femara.
This Femara tablet, which I persisted with for a few months, was making me depressed. My hair was getting thinner, I had pain and sometimes I felt vibrations in my body. I was feeling miserable. I did not have much support and I still had to look after my 86-year-old husband. I started gambling and attended a lot of
bingo sessions. It was suggested to me that at my age, I should think about my quality of life.
In June 2016, I decided to stop taking any medication. My quality of life improved dramatically. I consider myself a young 82 and started enjoying the things I love doing again – sewing, crocheting, reading, etc. I am still driving and try to carry on as though the cancer did not occur.
I encourage others at the club I attend to see the bright side and enjoy each day as it comes.