We found out we were pregnant with our second child in June when we were holidaying in my home country Sweden. It was so amazing getting to share the news in person with my whole family – who usually miss out on most things by being so far away. Since we had our daughter in 2012 I have been constantly homesick and felt so guilty towards my family who is not only missing out on having me in their lives but now also my amazing daughter.
As my husband has a 12 year old son the option of moving to Sweden was never there until the son is older and don’t need his dad in the same extent as he does as a ‘tween’.
This has probably been my biggest struggle in life, the longing of being close with my family and my roots and the guilt towards them.
But then REAL problems entered our life.
My breasts were extremely sore this pregnancy – and going in to the third trimester – it only got worse. I also noticed that one of my nipples started to become inverted and my breasts were really red. I went to see my GP who just took a quick look and then said that my bra was too tight.
I had a completely different gut feeling and went the very next day to another GP for a breast check. She was very concerned and had me in for an ultrasound within 30 min. They found tissue that was of ‘great concern’ and wanted me to come back for a biopsy on the Monday morning (this was Friday afternoon).
I went back to my GP who had made some calls while I had my ultrasound done and she had got me an appointment to a Breast cancer specialist on the Monday afternoon and we were hoping that the biopsy results would be in by then. Alarm bells were ringing in my head – why are they in such a rush here?
What a weekend that was. I was worried sick. And people made me feel silly about being worried – saying ‘cancer doesn’t hurt’.
Monday morning came and the biopsy was done, they had to get a number of samples as I had multiple areas that looked suspicious.
Then we had to wait until 4.45 that afternoon to get the result. Longest day of my life.
We came to a see a wonderful doctor who unfortunately had to give me the answer I was dreading.
I had – 19 weeks pregnant – developed multi focal breast cancer.
I could not breathe. The anxiety came rolling like a massive train and hit me in the chest. I felt sick. I wanted to scream but could not get a sound out. Tears were silently rolling down my cheeks and the look of my husband’s face is one I’ll never forget.
As I had 3 tumours I was given no choice but to have a single mastectomy.
The doctor hoped to have that done within 2 weeks. But me being pregnant obviously complicated things, we needed to get an obstetrician to be in on the surgery as well to monitor my baby throughout the surgery. As the cancer care and pregnancy care is not located at the same hospital where we lived, we had to wait for permits for my Breast surgeon to operate in the other hospital where they could cater for my pregnancy.
9 days later I was admitted for my surgery and had my left breast removed.
The recovery after a mastectomy is surprisingly simple, I was not in any much pain (apart from mentally) and could go home with drainage 2 days later. I only took Panadol for pain and I was up walking and doing normal everyday stuff the very next day.
The first shower was one of the worst experiences of my life. I felt like the ugliest person in the world. I’ve never been a woman that flashes my cleavage or paid much attention to my breasts, but to be completely flat on one side felt terrible.
Then a long 9 days waited for the pathology result. We were hoping every second that it would not be an aggressive cancer and that it hadn’t spread. That I wouldn’t need chemo. Could I even have chemo? Would I see my kids grow up? Was I going to die soon?
The scenarios in our heads were endless.
2nd of October 2014 I got my sentence. It had spread through to 3 out of 12 lymph nodes. And it was aggressive as hell! HER2 positive cancer, it feeds of my own cells and metastasize and multiplies extremely quick.
12 days later I had my first round of Chemo. I will have 4 rounds over 12 weeks, so every third week and now 2 of them are over and done with.
Apparently all safe for the baby. I see a special midwife team and my obstetrician every 2 weeks to monitor the growth of the baby.
I have been very lucky in the middle of all this and had a very ‘easy’ ride with my chemo treatment. I have not felt sick, or tired. I have started working again as normal and apart from me losing my hair after the very first treatment (also a massive trauma) I feel just like I did pre cancer.
It is a weird feeling knowing you’re sick when you don’t feel sick. But we have stayed positive, we don’t live cancer. It comes over us every now and then and I obviously cry at times, but I have a good cry for 15 minutes and then I pick myself up again and thinking that there is NO WAY this cancer will take my life! I have faced challenges like the beach already – I don’t need to hide because my body doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I proudly wear my bald head in public if I am too lazy to wear a scarf or my wig. I have not bothered with a breast prosthesis. This cancer might try to kill me but I won’t let it stop me from living!
But we do know that we have a very long road ahead.
I will finish my chemo treatment on the 16th of December, then be induced to have my baby around mid-January in week 37 so I then can start my next chemo treatment.
The next drug I will have weekly for 12 weeks combined with Herceptin – antibodies that targets my specific cancer every 3 weeks for a full year. And I will need radiology after the 12 weeks of chemo, every day for 5 or 6 weeks.
This while I have a new baby to care for. So we know we are in for a wild ride here.
My mum has flown over from Sweden to help me out and my dear husband is truly amazing and I could not have done this without him. He has been a massive support and put a smile on my face every single day. Along with my daughter of course but she don’t have to put in much effort for me to smile, just to watch her sleep fills me with an overwhelming joy and will to live!
We now plan to move to Sweden in the middle of next year as the support from family is extremely important in my recovery and we are hoping that my stepson’s maternal family understands our situation and let him come visit us a couple of weeks every year and for us to have as much time with him as possible when we travel back to Australia.
October is the month every year where we are absolutely bombarded with breast cancer information but still, it is not enough information out there what women should look for when doing their breast checks. I had no clue that changes in size, or dimples or inverted nipples could be a sign of breast cancer.
To all the women out there, check your breasts! The likeliness of being cured is much, much bigger if the cancer is discovered early – don’t think ‘it won’t happen to me’ – because cancer does not discriminate.
Posted by nini, 13th November 2014