PHOTOGRAPHY BY IMELDA BELL CHILDREN AND FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER MAIDSTONE LIFE CHANGING
LIFE CHANGING EVENTS
One morning in December 2017, I rolled over in bed and felt a tightening in my right breast. I’d been aware of a thicker area for a while, but this time I felt what every woman dreads – a definite lump. I called my GP and got an appointment the same day. After examining me, he didn’t think it was too sinister, but referred me to a specialist breast surgeon. We are fortunate to have private healthcare, so a few days later, I found myself at the one stop breast clinic at KIMS Hospital in Maidstone. Confident that it would be nothing to worry about, I didn’t think to ask my husband or anyone to accompany me and I faced several examinations and tests on my own. After a mammogram and an ultrasound during which a biopsy was taken, I was called back to see my consultant. I sat down, still sure everything was precautionary and was greeted with the words, “You almost certainly have breast cancer!” Shell-shocked I drove home, with an appointment the following week to get confirmation. That was the longest week I have experienced, as I clung to the slim hope that he was wrong.
A week later, I returned with Andy, my husband, to get the results. My legs nearly buckled under me, as I climbed out of the car and walked the endlessly long, heavy-limbed walk to the consultants office. Once there, he confirmed what we feared, it was cancer. The area of thickening I had felt months earlier and not known to worry about was Ductal carcinoma in Situ (DCIS), which is an early form of breast cancer and covered a fairly large area of my breast. The lump was a cancerous tumour! Due to the size of the area of DCIS, a lumpectomy was not an option, I would require a mastectomy of my right breast.
Please take the time to familiarise yourselves with the possible signs of breast cancer. I was not aware of all of them, and had I visited my GP earlier, perhaps my breast would have been saved and things would not have progressed as they did.
The image below is from Breast Cancer Care’s website.
Once it was confirmed that my treatment plan was surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy (Herceptin), I decided to take control of some things. I was told I would probably lose my hair, so I decided to cut my long hair to make the change less traumatic and at the same time, help someone else by donating my hair to the Little Princess Trust. In the photos below, you can see the before and after.