A little about me
I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer when I was 31 years old; in November 2021 I will be completing 15 years since my diagnosis happened. I am very excited to be reaching the 15 year mark, however, the journey was not as easy as it may sound now.
I started my battle with chemotherapy; I had eight rounds of chemo and then I had a bilateral mastectomy to get rid of my breast. To me it felt like the easiest decision I have ever made in my life, to get them off, and then rebuild them later.
The treatment was then followed by 35 rounds of radiation. And then I waited for about six months before I had a latissimus dorsi reconstruction using my back muscle and skin to reconstruct my left breast; that took about a year to heal.
I had BRCA 1 and my cancer was triple negative and so it was still recommended to have a preventative hysterectomy by the time I turned 40, so that I could prevent the cancer from coming back. That was the hardest decision I’ve ever made because I wanted to be a mom and I didn’t have children at the time. It was a heartbreaking decision actually.
But here I am, 15 years later, as healthy as I could be!
I had a family history of cancer
My family has been deeply impacted by cancer. My mother was diagnosed in her 30s and passed away at the age of 42 with metastatic breast cancer that spread to her brain. So, cancer has been a part of our vocabulary, our family’s history for a very long time. The oldest sister was diagnosed with stage one, hence, there was a lot of talk and a lot of awareness related to our risk as afamily.
How it began for me
I was not paying close attention to my body at that time; I hadn’t even gone for my first mammogram yet. If I think about the past in retrospect, I did have a lot of sharp pain that would come and go, and I did have a rash and sensitive area near my underarm. When I looked at my breast, my one side was significantly droopy and I could tell that there was something wrong, still, I didn’t visit a doctor.
Then one day when I was getting out of the shower and drying off with a towel, I felt an intense pain; it made me put my hand there to relieve the pain. Then I made an effort to feel my body and I felt the lump. That’s how I figured that it was my body telling me something was wrong by giving me that sharp pain to pay attention and seek medical advice.
Mine was stage three when I found that I had two tumours together that created this big lump and then the breast MRI uncovered that there was another tumour deep inside my breast. The ultrasound showed that my lymph nodes also had cancer activity. I hadn’t told anyone in my family that I was visiting my doctor; when they told all of this to me, I started crying thinking I was going to die…
How I coped up with treatments
I needed to know everything about my body, what was happening and how it was going to be treated. So, I armed myself with knowledge and that alleviated a lot of emotional distress and anxiety of what next. I read the book ‘Breast cancer survivor’ cover to cover and penned down close to 60 questions for my doctor. He was patient enough to answer all my questions. I actually recorded the entire conversation, so I could play again in case of any doubts.
So far I was afraid of what it was going to be, but now I was ready for the upcoming days. I prayed and prayed, and many other people prayed for me. I was very scared from Chemotherapy. Then my nurse introduced me to one lady who just had a Chemo and she was going to take her daughter to Disneyland, which eased all my stress. First treatment was difficult, I didn’t have an appetite, I had a lot of pain, and digestion issues. I was in a very bad shape with all this pain.
Then someone suggested that I go to a homoeopathic doctor. He gave me a nutrition plan and a hydration plan and asked me to take that plan to my oncologist. I changed my entire diet plan as per the suggestion of both doctors. By my last Chemo session, my pain was less and I was feeling much better. Then by the time my Chemo was done, I bounced back really fast.
By the time radiation started, I had started working out slowly. I ate better; took supplements. I continued with the suggested diet; all of it helped me get back onto a normal routine again.
A Parting Message!
Knowing your body, the landscape of your breast, is really important. What feels normal and what doesn’t, you’ll be more aware this way. After all, no one else can catch it sooner than yourself!
It’s okay to ask for assistance. When people ask if you need help, accept their generosity.
Picture the cancer is leaving your body. This exercise will help you remove cancer from your mind. I kept the music on all the time as I was a music lover. I walked as and when I got an opportunity, even for a short distance.
Cancer helps you evaluate your life and serves as a wonderful filter, filter in friends and life. You learn a lot about yourself and about life. I won’t call it a journey; I would rather call it a storm.
Do not see yourself as a victim. You can still control what kind of treatment you want. You can decide what to eat and how to live. Things happen in life; let’s accept them and move on.