Giving hope to those affected
by secondary breast cancer

Research. Support. Education.

How Were You Diagnosed?

2nd July 2022 by Helen Stewart Education

Helen Stewart Photo

When were you diagnosed with secondary breast cancer?

I was diagnosed with SBC on 16th March 2020.

What type do you have?

I have mets in my spine, and was originally thought to be in my lung pleura, however the lung ones can no longer be seen on scans after my initial chemotherapy.

Did you have a primary diagnosis?

Kind of! I was diagnosed with (what they told me was stage 2) breast cancer in January 2020, but the staging CT and MRI scans just before my chemotherapy showed the metastases. I had, by that time,  in a few short weeks developed severe sciatica, but hadn’t considered that it was anything to do with the cancer. (It was in fact the mets pressing on my sciatic nerve, this pain also disappeared after my chemotherapy)

What symptoms made you go to the doctor? 

I found a lump in December 2019. I have a family history of breast cancer (my sister was diagnosed 6 weeks before me, and my mum had breast cancer first 40 years ago, plus grandmother and great grandmother…), so I did go straight to the GP. We have since discovered that we have the faulty BRACA2 gene.

How long did it take to be diagnosed? 

I had a three week wait to actually see my GP, but after he booked the appointment at the breast clinic the breast cancer diagnosis was fairly quick. I was told in mid January after biopsies that it was cancer. The secondary diagnosis was made after I had my mastectomy and just before starting my chemotherapy in mid March.

How many times did you speak to a medical professional before you were diagnosed?

I spoke to just my GP, and then the breast surgeon and oncologist. I am lucky that I presented with a breast lump, As we know, Secondary Breast Cancer can present without any visible breast lumps and the symptoms can be similar to other conditions and it takes longer  to diagnose (or be misdiagnosed)