Cancer

I am often asked how I found out I had breast cancer. Here is my story:

In the summer of 2018 I found a small lump on my right breast. It felt like a pea and didn’t really cause me any concern. I decided to have it checked out because of my family history. I had no other symptoms, other than being tired which I attributed to being a working mom!

My family doctor also didn’t seem too concerned about the small pea in my breast but ordered a mammogram and ultrasound, again based on my family history.

August 31, 2018, I confidently walked into the hospital to have my imaging completed. My confidence quickly faded as the radiologist said what they were seeing was “causing concern”. They asked me to call my husband to pick me up.

A mammogram, ultrasound, three biopsies and another mammogram later I walked out of the hospital with my husband holding my sweaty hand.

September 11, 2018 I found out the results of the biopsy: Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Cancer. I would be having surgery within a month.

After meeting with my cancer surgeon and plastic surgeon, I decided on a full mastectomy, sentinal lymph node removal and immediate reconstruction with a tissue expander being placed under my pectoralis muscle. I mostly followed the advice of my surgeons, who explained things fully and considered my lifestyle and desire to return to activity quickly.

October 19, 2018 – Surgery date. Mastectomy, lymph node removal and tissue expander in place, I got to head home to recover.

Pathology report:
– Tumour stage 1 – less than 2cm (mine was 1.7cm)
– No lymph node involvement and therefore no need to look for cancer elsewhere
– Estrogen Receptor (ER) and Progesterone Receptor (PR) – positive
– Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) – negative

My pathology report was great! Everyone was relieved. But I knew I still likely faced chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Next up was to meet with my Oncologist at the Cancer Clinic.

After some extra testing (Oncotype) I received the great news that I wouldn’t need chemotherapy! It was determined that hormone therapy (anti-estrogen) alone would decrease my chance of breast cancer reoccurance by 1/3rd and that chemotherapy would not significantly change that. The toxicity of going through chemotherapy wouldn’t be worth it in my case. I felt very lucky.

In December 2018 I started Tamoxifen. You can read about my experience with that so far here.