Giving hope to those affected
by secondary breast cancer

Research. Support. Education.

My SBC Journey: Pauline

31st August 2020 SBC & Me


When were you diagnosed with SBC?
I was diagnosed with SBC in December of 2017 aged 41.
How were you diagnosed with SBC?
I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2017 after noticing pain and changes in my left breast. Because the cancer was quite aggressive and also found in my lymph nodes, I was given staging scans. This was a chest x-ray, a liver ultrasound and a bone scan. These came back clear, except the ultrasound had found something abnormal around my aorta, so a ct scan was arranged. The ct scan picked up that I had a horse shoe shaped kidney. It also picked up a spot on my liver that had not been found with the ultrasound. I am grateful for my horseshoe shaped kidney or I might not have known about the liver. My oncologist arranged an MRI scan to get a better look at the spot. She decided it would be scanned again after 3 sessions of chemotherapy.
In December 2017 when I was seeing my oncologist to get my half way results after half of my sessions of chemotherapy I was told the lesion on my liver had shrunk by 4mm. It had responded to the chemotherapy. This meant by treatment course now changed from curative to palliative. I had secondary breast cancer with a metastases in my liver. It was a few weeks before Christmas and in my head I was convinced it was going to be my last one. My sons were 10 and 11 when I was diagnosed.
What has been your treatment Journey?
My treatment so far has been 6 sessions of 3 weekly chemotherapy, I had docetaxal, carboplatin and herceptin. I had 7 infusions of herceptin in total before it damaged my heart. After chemo, I had a single mastectomy, this was February 2018. I had radiotherapy in April/May. I started zoladex and letrazol in March and April of 2018. I now also take a concoction of cardiac meds to help my heart. I had liver MRI's every 12 weeks. I had a complete response to the chemotherapy in my liver and just over 2 years later it still hasn't dared show up again. I have recently been moved on to 6 monthly MRI scans and annual nuclear heart scans.
What would have helped make your journey so far easier?
What would have made my journey easier would have been a dedicated secondary breast care nurse at my hospital. We do have one now but it very much felt like secondary breast cancer was the elephant in the room when attending support groups or clinics. My local Maggie's was quick to recognise this and set up a living with secondaries group.
At first I was apprehensive that joining a support group might be full of doom and gloom. It has its moments but I can promise you I have laughed more than I have cried. It's hard when you meet friends through your diagnosis and you see them going through hard times or you lose them. I sometimes feel guilty celebrating stable results when others are experiencing progression. It's not like that though, we are all there for each other for the highs and the lows. No matter what.
What's your favourite holiday destination?
My favourite holiday destination is grannies heilan hame in Embo.
Can you recommend any good films or TV shows?
I like to watch comedies or psychological thrillers, but I am notorious for falling asleep during films. Even in the cinema.