Sonia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. Sonia shared her story in 2021 at the age of 71.
Seeing the GP
I went to see my doctor with concerns about my heart. I saw a young doctor. She took notice of what I was saying and the fact that heart disease was in my immediate family. She arranged to have my heart problems properly investigated.
About my cancer diagnosis
A few weeks after seeing my doctor I had a heart test called an angiogram.
I received a letter from the hospital about my results. The dye showed 2 blockages in my heart but also a shadow in my left breast. Naturally this was a shock as I had no lump and no indication there was a problem. Within 2 weeks I had a mammogram and biopsy. I was told not to worry as there was a 2% chance that it was cancer. In the meantime I went back to the hospital for another heart test.
I had a mini stroke (TIA) and went by ambulance to the hospital. This was 3 days before I was due to go back to the breast clinic for my biopsy results. I stayed in hospital for 5 days to have more heart tests.
A doctor and nurse from the breast clinic visited me while in hospital and told me the biopsy results. I had stage 2 cancer.
My cancer treatment
I was prescribed an anti oestrogen tablet called Letrozole which I had to start taking straight away. Thankfully I didn’t suffer any side effects (apart from thinning hair) considering I was also on another 8 tablets mainly for my heart condition.
In January 2021 I had the cancerous tissue and 2 lymph nodes removed. I went home the same day. I was due for radiotherapy but it was decided it could be damaging to my heart. So I’ll continue with the Letrozole for 5 years. I have since developed a hard lump under the operation scar which I have been told is a seroma.
My thoughts and feelings about my cancer diagnosis
I consider myself to be very lucky. Because if my doctor had not sent me to cardiology for an angiogram, I would be walking around now with an invasive cancer I was unaware of. The biopsy was slightly painful. A piece of titanium was put inside my breast to mark the suspect area. I surprised myself by accepting the diagnosis very well. I think it’s always a bigger shock for family members as they fear the worst. Admittedly I cried. But somehow I just thought I could deal with it. Once the operation was over I was relieved to be rid of it. The surgeon did say to me that if he had to have any type of cancer it would be the particular type that I had or prostate cancer as the treatment for these was very promising.
Surprisingly, I felt slightly guilty that my cancer was dealt with so quickly. And that I was put on medication from the start. There was hardly any waiting. Even though I had to get through Christmas I knew I was due for the operation fairly soon after.
I’ve been so lucky compared to many other women. And I can’t believe I’m in the clear. To be honest I felt more emotional when it was all over and probably cried more after than I did when I wasfirst told. It’s like it never happened!