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I love life!

From Amanda Brent

I was 34 years old and I had been travelling round the world for the last 7 months and come back engaged to my boyfriend of 9 years! Life was great and I was very happy... then we found the lump - only small just above my left nipple.

My partner nagged me to go to the doctors (I thank him for that) - I was advised to see a specialist the next few weeks went by, not a worry as we believed all was normal then the results were I had breast cancer. I felt as if it was someone else they were telling I sat and looked searching for some other explanation from the specialist but none came apart from lots of tears from me! The hardest part was trying to tell the rest of my family and close friends - how do you start a conversation and throw in "oh by the way I have just found out I have breast cancer..."

I started chemotherapy in November of last year every 3 weeks until February - no-one can prepare you for how you feel I have heard that it does not affect some - how lucky they are! I was exhausted, sickly, short of breath and hot sweats at night - I had aged by 30 years overnight! Then the hair loss - you don't realise how much you value something until it goes! However, through wearing the cold cap (freezing jockey style cap worn while undergoing chemo treatment). I did not lose all my hair but waking each morning to find lots of hair on your pillow was quite depressing to me.

While on chemo I decided that I needed to eat healthy foods so a fresh smoothie of at least 4 different fruits a day, plus plenty of veg and no takeaways (well maybe just the odd one!) helped me to feel some strength through the treatment, I also took Milk Thistle tablets to support my liver. I kept a diary by day so that after each treatment I knew when my good days would be and could plan to do something instead of just sitting around - I say this, but sitting around is the best remedy for the first few days after chemo treatment, my experience has taught me how to relax much more than I ever would have done!

I returned to MRI scans and X- rays to assess my next step for treatment I was then told I had a choice either a lumpectomy or a full masectomy - I can understand how people feel when they decide to have the breast completely removed and I did consider this, however, I decided what did I have to loose? If I went for lumpectomy and it was successful then my breast may be fine, if not, then a full masectomy would be needed but I would have tried to save some of my breast.

In April I went into hospital. As the chemo had worked very well the lump was so small now that they had to place a wire into my breast to locate the lump this was done prior to the surgery and even though to me it sounded awful it was fine. I also had all my lymph nodes removed under my left arm as there had been some change in size during chemo. Vest tops and shirts buttoned up the front are really useful after the op as I found it difficult to get my arm over my head! After the op, I religiously stuck to my exercises and use of my left arm is pretty much back to normal now (I can get my normal clothes back on now!).

I got the results of my operation 10 days after the operation, the lymph nodes were all clear - no sign of cancer and the lump had been removed with a clear area all around it - I was delighted and so were all my family and friends!!

I am now having radiotherapy, compared to chemo, yes, it is a walk in the park! Coating yourself in the cream they give you is a must, try and wear loose fitting tops too as this helps as the treatment goes on. I am also on Tamoxifen, yes, this does concern me as we would like to have a family one day, but as my partner says he would prefer to have me well.

I feel there is now light at the end of the tunnel for me, remaining positive and talking about my treatment has helped me enormously. I was so lucky to have a close family and fantastic friends both at work and at home who have supported me and my partner all the way through these months, also my breast care nurse.

Don't delay start to feel your breasts for anything unusual and don't put off things for tomorrow, sort them today!

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Updated: 28 September 2009