20th December 2020 SBC & Me
When were you diagnosed with SBC?
I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer on December 14th 2018, so 2 years ago almost to the day! It came only a year and a half after my primary diagnosis in May 2017.
How were you diagnosed with SBC?
My SBC was discovered during my 9-hour DIEP flap reconstruction surgery, the surgeon discovered an enlarged lymph node in the chest wall, which when tested, contained cancer. Off the back of that, I was given a CT scan which showed several cancerous nodules spread across both lungs. I feel very lucky to have had the surgery and for cancer to have been found, as I had no symptoms at all, so would have been completely oblivious for a long time!
What has been your treatment Journey?
Having undergone adjuvant chemotherapy, followed by surgery and radiotherapy during my primary diagnosis, my first line of treatment after my secondary diagnosis was another 6 months of Paclitaxol chemotherapy, this time I used the cold cap and didn’t lose any hair at all, which really helped me mentally. I also had Herceptin and Perjeta every 3 weeks. I was lucky as Perjeta was approved the very week I was due to start it. I also tried all the hormone blockers and had Zoladex injections every 4 weeks. I got just over a year out of these treatments before I had progression in my lungs during the start of lockdown. I was then put on to oral chemotherapy tablets, Capecitabine, but found out at my first scan recently, since starting it, that it was not working. I am staying on it, whilst I await a lung biopsy, which will determine whether my cancer receptors have changed. The biopsy should be happening in the first week of January!
What would have helped make your journey so far easier?
I can’t really decide if anything would have made my journey easier. It’s not been an easy journey by any means, but I have tried to remain positive throughout, and I think that has really helped. I have two young children, so I try to keep that smile in place. I have been really well supported by great friends and family, and have also felt a great amount of support from Make 2nds Count.
What advice would you give someone who has just received their diagnosis?
Research research research! I think it’s so important at the start of your diagnosis, to find out as much as possible about your cancer, and also to not read too much about prognosis/survival statistics! They are scary and I don’t feel they are realistic anymore. We are the ones who are writing the new statistics, and on all these new treatments, can live for many years.
I also recommend that you take out life insurance as soon as you feel a lump, or have any suspicion. I wish someone had given me this advice, especially since I am a single parent of two young girls. Once you have had the diagnosis, it is too late.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
My favourite holiday destination....anywhere warm really, where I can relax with a book! But I long to visit Japan, that is high up on my bucket list!
Do you have any great TV/film recommendations?
The best Netflix series I have watched recently is The Queen's Gambit! The costumes and cinematography are amazing! Well worth a watch!