Patient name: Sarah
Diagnose: breast cancer
Hi, my name is Sarah, I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 31. This is my story.
It’s funny how people tend to dream about and plan for years ahead like the future is one hundred percent certain. Everything about that future is always promising, bright and positive. After all, no one wishes for bad things. We do worry, though. Most of the time we worry about our children, partners, parents, jobs, money, and many other things, often forgetting about ourselves. Nothing bad could ever happen to us, right?
Back in 2012, holiday season, I was feeling very good about myself. I had a good job, two years of marriage behind me, and many plans ahead. My husband and I were trying for a baby for the past year but did not have any success yet. The Christmas was near and we were supposed to visit his family in Greece. I was really looking forward to some warm weather this winter.
Now, I was not someone who performed health checks or self-examinations regularly. I thought of myself as being young and fit, and light-years away from any health issues. However, that morning I spoke with my mom on the phone and she told me about her good friends’ daughter-in-law who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was only 36 years old.
For some reason, that news really struck me, and I decided to check myself too. To my great surprise, I felt a small but unusual lump near the left armpit. I felt worried and all kinds of thoughts came to my mind. I felt the strong urge to do something about it and yet, I did nothing. I didn’t even say anything to my husband or my mother. I just went on with those thoughts in the back of my head, until February.
In the meantime, the trip to Greece was amazing. After New Year’s I decided to go back to the gym since it’s been a while. As a result, I felt a boost in confidence, but I could not stop thinking and going back, trying to feel the lump again and again. It was always there, small, not painful but strange. I even googled everything about breast lumps. Most of them were supposed to be non-cancerous. To my knowledge, I had no family history of breast cancer, and I certainly did not have any other symptoms. All these facts gave me some comfort but, luckily, not enough to stop worrying.
Few days into February I felt that the lump got slightly bigger. I was not sure but, honestly, I got really scared. I decided to see my doctor and tell her about it. During the examination, she was able to feel the little lump too. She explained to me all the possible causes and expressed her opinion that considering my age and the overall condition, it is probably nothing to worry about.
However, just to be sure, she decided to send me to an ultrasound checkup. The results were not conclusive enough, so we agreed to do a mammography. The mammography findings qualified me for a biopsy, which was done a few days later. All of this took a month or so. The whole process made me feel like I was doing something good for myself, so I even stopped worrying too much. By the time the biopsy results came back, I did not feel restless or concerned. I believed that I am completely healthy. I was mistaken.
I got a call from the doctor’s office while I was at work. They told me that I should come tomorrow to discuss the results with the doctor. This got me feeling nervous, but I still felt that it could not be anything bad. When I got there, the doctor told me that the results were positive and that I have breast cancer. The shock, a feeling that can hardly be described. The disbelief kicked in once again. I was asking could they be wrong, should I do another test, but the doctor assured me that it would be the best to remain positive and focus on planning the treatment.
While my husband knew about the doctor’s appointments I didn’t trouble him much with my concerns as I was always hoping it will not turn out to be the worse. Needless to say, the news was crushing for him too. My mother was another story completely. I never shared this with her because I did not want her to worry and I knew she would push me to do everything urgently. I guess I just wasn’t ready. It did not bother me to go alone through the whole process of doctor’s appointments, checkups, and results, but now when I knew I was sick I felt the need to share with someone. Support of my family meant everything to me.
Next up was the appointment with the surgeon. He suggested that we should do the surgery without any delay. I could feel that he was confident and I liked the fact that he advised me to go on with my life as usual. To stay active and engage socially as much as I can. We discussed the reconstruction as well and I felt assured that everything is going to be just fine. The surgery was scheduled for the end of the week. Luckily, everything went well and I continued the treatment with chemo.
It’s been five years since then. I am still here, feeling good and healthy. I never let my life to be influenced by cancer. I stayed positive and believed in myself and in those who were there to help me. That is why I wanted to share my story. I wish for my words to reach those women who are having doubts whether or not to see a doctor. Also, for those who are already diagnosed with breast cancer. I want you to know that you have to believe and not to give up on your future. Cancer can be beaten, and most of the fight is up to you.