Adrian and my mum came with me to get my results. I knew once I saw the consultants face that the news wasn’t going to be good. The results of the biopsy showed I had “Invasive ductal carcinoma” which is the most common type of breast cancer. My cancer was hormone receptor positive which means hormones such as oestrogen or progesterone were encouraging the cancer to grow (in my case it was the oestrogen).
My treatment plan was to include radiotherapy and hormone tablets for 5 years (to block the oestrogen). At this stage, there was still a chance I would not need chemotherapy. I first needed to wait for the results of another test to determine if my breast cancer was HER2 positive or negative. If the results were positive (meaning the breast cancer cells have large numbers or HER2 protein on their surfaces helping the cancer to grow) I would need chemotherapy before my surgery. If the results were negative I would be scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks time. I was scheduled for a follow-up appointment in a week for the results.
So, I still had a bit more waiting to do. I left the room with my mum and Adrian, still trying to process the information and how I felt about it. I had been dealt a blow and told I had Breast cancer but I was ok. My diagnosis was good – it was one of the most common forms of breast cancer with a 97% survival rate. It looked like I caught it early and the location of the lump meant my post-surgery scars shouldn’t be very noticeable. Before getting the results I had said I’d be happy once I was told it was treatable – and I was happy. To me this was a good diagnosis – did I want to hear I had cancer? NO! But I knew I could beat this and that’s all I needed to know.
I broke the news to my family. One of my brothers lives in Dublin, about 5 minutes drive from St Vincents so God love him – I rang him, broke the news to him and we arrived on his doorstep 5 minutes later!! To say he was a bit shell shocked is an understatement! We all went for lunch and I treated myself to a glass of Prosecco* (*correction – Adrian read this and reminded me I actually treated myself to TWO glasses of Prosecco, but I deserved them so who’s counting!). I asked mum and Adrian later “Is it wrong to say I actually had a nice day?”! But that’s how I felt. I genuinely didn’t feel upset about the news, I don’t know why. I asked myself if I was in shock or denial but I wasn’t. I knew it was treatable, it was going to be a tough year but so many people are faced with much worse.
I was due to fly to London for three nights on Monday with work. I had decided before my diagnosis that I still wanted to go. My team and I had worked really hard over the previous few months developing this program and I wanted to be there. We had so many exciting things planned in the Leadership Development space for this year, I was so disappointed I wasn’t going to be there to see them through so I wanted to be there for this while I could, what was the point in sitting at home waiting?
While over there I got a call from the hospital, the results of the HER2 test were back and they were negative (good news) so I would have surgery in just over a week. So things were still looking good for no chemo (of course I still had to wait and see if the cancer had spread). I’m so glad I went to London, the programme went really well and it was a lovely way to finish up. I shared my story with the group before leaving and the support and well wishes I received gave me such a boost facing into the surgery.