Well I saw a movie once, it was in Dutch.. Roughly translated: A lady goes to the doctor…In my case A lady went to the Physio… At the end of February 2021, I had some pain under my left breast. I’d had a hard knock and bruise there a year before and just thought it was acting up, but Anita from Hands on Physio refused to do anything until I checked in with my doctor. So, to the doctor I went, who also straight away ordered a Mammogram and Ultrasound. No discernible lump anywhere, but better to be safe than sorry. So off to the Imed I go. Our family has no history of cancer, especially breast cancer so I’m thinking it’s nothing but of course fate will laugh…one lump found in both mammogram and ultrasound so then the biopsy fun which came back with the word “suspicious”. More tests and then a call from my doctor the very next day…Yes invasive carcinoma.

I then saw the surgeon (Dr Al Askari) who sent away for tests to determine type and it came back as aggressive HER-2. Lucky me! But the good news was that is was extremely early and 16mm, so it was decided that a lumpectomy was needed followed by operation for portacath, followed by “light Chemo” also known as Paclitaxol for 12 weeks. Then rads for 4 weeks. The 4 needles in the breast to check lymph nodes was extremely painful and the hook wire was no fun either as the mammogram after was less than successful due to how far back the cancer was {right near my rib} But good results there was no lymph node involvement. At surgery, they removed two as well as lump…

I threw a reaction to the Paclitaxol first time, so I had to have a slower infusion over two hours, that worked. I was quite lucky and didn’t get too many side effects. Mainly fatigue and of course the dreaded hair loss. and some tingling in my hands and feet, mostly numbness now, and the steroid tablets knocked me around too but I had no nausea so that was good. Tried working a few hours a day when I could. My manager at Kmart was great, as were the staff and other managers so lucky there too.

Radiation was not too bad, 3 weeks with a booster week added on for immediate area and I coped with that really well. Cancer council at Rockhampton were fantastic, I stayed there for 4 weeks as treatment has to be in Rocky, and I live in Gladstone. All my chemo treatments were in rocky too under Dr Vermula (I chose to go private) and staff at Mater in Rocky are fantastic too. I also get an infusion of Herceptin every three weeks which started same time as Chemo. This is a wonder drug developed by Dr Slamon in the USA and it has helped massively with the survival rate of HER-2 cancers. It is a targeted antibody and is developed for this type. I was stage 1, with a grade 3 cancer. So here I am, I’ve survived the chemo, the rads, still going on Herceptin but at this stage all scans are clear. I have to have an echocardiogram every 3 months to check my heart and of course the numerous scans and Dr appointments will be here for some time to come but my outlook is great. Special thanks to the cancer council Rockhampton, nurses at Mater in Rocky, Sally at the McGrath foundation and Anita at Hands on Physio who I credit with saving my life because I would have shrugged it off as another pain, and instead I got treated straight away and come away with a very good prognosis.

There is always hope, stay strong, be positive and remember, get your boobs checked and if anything feels wrong, get it checked, it can save your life.

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