Claire's story

I was initially diagnosed with primary breast cancer in September 2011, when my baby daughter was just 11 months old. My GP was very supportive and referred me straightaway for tests, which a week later confirmed my worst fears, I had cancer! I went on to have a mastectomy the following week, followed by 6 rounds of chemo (every 3 weeks) and then 15 rounds of radiotherapy. By September 2012, I was told I was in remission and could proceed with reconstructive surgery.

I continued to have routine annual check-ups and all was fine.  We relocated as a family to my husband’s family farm in Worcestershire and life was good. In October 2015, I started experiencing pain in my left femur, which on researching indicated that I could have secondary breast cancer as the pain was not going with resting and was worse at night time. I discussed my concerns with both my breast care nurse and my GP but was told it was nothing of concern. I continued to challenge my concerns for a further two years until July 2017 when I refused to move from my GP surgery until I was referred for a bone scan. In August 2017 my worst fears were confirmed, I had secondary breast cancer not only in my femur but also my spine, pelvis and one rib. Due to this being considered wide spread bone mets, my new oncologist referred me for a CT scan, which went onto confirm mets also in my liver and lungs.  My world was turned upside down, not for me but for my now 7 year old daughter; how do I even begin to explain this to her?

Until being diagnosed with secondary breast cancer I was totally unaware how common this is for women of my age who are pre-menopause. I was on tamoxifen for 5 years, whilst apparently I was in remission. I did challenge on several occasions to my original oncologist that I was still having periods whilst on tamoxifen but this did not seem to concern him due to my age and being under 40. I asked to have my ovaries removed as oestrogen is the main course of my cancer, but this was not up for discussion, I will never know now if this would have helped my secondary diagnosis but research has shown it can reduce a reoccurrence by 50%.  

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