Pam was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 at the age of 67. Pam shared her story with us in March 2021.
In March 2020 I noticed my left nipple was permanently inverted. I went to my GP as I knew this could be a warning sign of breast cancer. My doctor referred me to the local hospital for a 2 week One Stop Breast Service appointment. I attended on the 10th March. They reassured me it was probably caused by a collapsed milk duct.
I then noticed discharge and crusting from the nipple. This happened several times during December 2020 and January 2021. I went back to my GP. I was referred again to the local hospital under the 2 week cancer check rules. I had a mammogram, chest x-ray, breast scan and biopsy. The following week I was asked to return for further biopsies. That’s when I knew something suspicious had been found.
Two weeks after I got the results. I was shocked to find it was cancer but felt confident that it had been found quite early. I met with the Breast Care Nurse as well as the surgeon and was given lots of reassurance and information to read. I was told I would need a mastectomy.
I was anxious but was relieved to find out that I wouldn’t need any more treatment after the mastectomy. It was just yearly check ups and mammograms. I decided not to have a breast reconstruction. I felt that a mastectomy bra and breast sponge would be OK for me.
I asked why I wasn’t having chemotherapy or any other medication. I wondered whether my age had anything to do with it. I was told it wasn’t due to my age. As it was a small growth that hadn’t spread anywhere else so nothing else was required just yearly check ups.
Coping after treatment
It has been an isolating experience due to the COVID 19 lockdown. No coffee mornings for me or visits to the Purley Cancer Centre for chats or sessions of aromatherapy or reflexology. I have been able to avail myself to some telephone counselling though which has been helpful. At night when I can’t sleep, I do go on the internet and do my research, some good, some bad. Being able to talk face to face is something I miss though. In normal circumstances I would be meeting up with friends, attending support groups and interacting with other people.
Information can be overwhelming sometimes and if you have no further appointments to attend at the hospital and cancer help centres are closed, life does feel devoid of personal interaction. Telephone help lines are great, but not quite the same as face to face contact.