I was going to start sharing my journey from the beginning; however, after the last few months I’ve had and the news I got two days ago, I thought I’d start with an update first, then go back to the beginning.

You see, today is the twelfth anniversary of my first surgery to remove a particularly nasty not-so-little tumour from my right breast and partial mastectomy.

The last few months have been horrid, and the news I received last Tuesday wasn’t pleasant or easy to hear. 

No, it hasn’t returned, and I’m still in remission!

However, not all is rosy, and I’m still struggling with pain and getting used to my now-normal daily life.

Before I continue, I want to reiterate that I do not want anyone’s sympathy and am not sharing my experience to receive it. I don’t go in for woe is me’s and believe shit happens; let’s just get on with it. 

I get on with a life that I would otherwise not have.

So here we go:

A few months back, my breast became more painful than usual, and I noticed that the skin was thicker and almost hard in the lower part of my breast; it also had dimpling and resembled orange peel.

Now if you Google that shit, there’s nothing good to read there, and given my history, I’m not gonna lie, there was a pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat.

To add to the dread, my doctor was moving practices and was on leave for a month. Knowing I just needed some imaging, I made an appointment with a random doctor just up the road. 

Mr Mac (who is my gorgeous husband, rock, number one confident and support person for anyone who doesn’t already know. He also occasionally goes by the name Ian) had researched her and decided she was okay, being a women’s health doctor.

Now, if I had started my story at the beginning, you’d already know how absolutely amazing and awesome my team is. This poor doctor, who I’m sure is a perfectly nice and competent doctor, is not part of my team nor what I was used to, which added to my already heightened anxiety.

I took my referral to my usual imaging place at Hollywood Hospital, the new premises for the Breast Cancer Research Centre run by the gorgeous and somewhat intimidating Professor Arlene Chan AM, of which I was a frequent flyer until my discharge last year; coz I had bloody whipped that cancers butt, yay!

After some confusion from reception, as the dates didn’t coincide with my other already booked and usual fixed yearly appointment for the same procedures, said scans were completed.

My fears were ever so slightly put at ease by the lack of any fuss at the imaging centre, having been through the palaver when there was a matter of concern.

Returning to ‘her up the road,’ my short-lived relief was undone. I was met with, um, the results didn’t really show anything, but they’ve advised you can proceed with more tests and a biopsy if you’d like; wtf??

Still, with no offer of blood tests to check my markers or any other reassuring offers, I decided, given the fact that the scans didn’t immediately scream any horrors, I’d wait the two weeks and see my beloved GP, who would sort all this shit out for sure.

The next day, I received a call from my breast surgeon’s secretary stating Mr Martin wanted to see me and I was to be there first thing Monday morning. Now, that’s what I was used to; I was both relieved and terrified about why the big guns had summoned me and slightly curious about how he’d got involved; perhaps he’s flagged on my file.

Why does shit always go down on a Friday, and you gotta wait out the weekend?

After a very long weekend, I presented myself on Monday morning to the lovely faces and persona I was so used to. My loving, gentle and caring breast surgeon, who was able to put you at ease with just his presence and reassuring demeanour, even if the news was dire, said he’d read my results, had spoken to someone and had already arranged the biopsy, more of what I was used to and had come to expect.

Biopsy done, results showed nothing nasty, which was a relief and great news, but no explanation of what was happening and a wait-and-see diagnosis. I settled in to wait for my GP to get back, although the pain was getting worse, and the thickness was spreading.

I must admit defeat when the GP was as in the dark as everyone else, but still better than ‘her up the road’.

Antibiotics did nothing, so infection was ruled out. The pain was still getting worse, almost unbearable, and the thickening slowly engulfed my entire boob, or what was left of it. Beside myself, I turned once again to Google and discovered breast edema, which was another avenue to explore. Back on with the compression arm sleeve and a new compression bra, I hoped, would help.

The pain still increased as I dealt with the additional discomfort of the compression garments. However, the thickening started to recede. With the GP on board with the new prognosis, we decided to wait it out for yet another few weeks, which had the breast back to the point at which the thickening and dimpling had started, but the pain was still quite intense.

Long story not quite so short, I returned to Mr Martin again as we’d run out of other options. He checked me out again and delivered the upsetting news that as I’d received extensive Radiotherapy, it had actually penetrated every cell of my boob and also down to my ribs.

This news was not new to me; what was new to me was the fact that it was the radiotherapy that had caused the thickening and was now coming to the surface after 12 years. Apparently, it’s always been there; it’s just progressed and will continue to progress and worsen the older I get.

The other kicker was the fact that the pain in and under my arm and on the right side of my breast was actually from my ribs. 

Removing both my breasts (which I decided was better than putting up with the pain) would only reduce my pain by a small amount, and I could develop other issues from that surgery as radiated skin didn’t behave like normal skin.

There is, however, absolutely nothing that can be done for my ribs and the pain involved, and that would also be with me for the long term and possibly worsen as I age.

Well fuck that shit!! 

To top of my emotions and bad mood, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and there are posters and pink stuff everywhere I go! 

Well cest la vie, it is what it is.

So, 12 years on, and my boob is still being mean to me; however, I’m still here, despite my cancer and in spite of everything that has tried to take me out. Every day above ground is a good one, I always say.

I’m still coming to terms with my new normal. I’ve been in pain since my first surgery and shall apparently continue to be in pain. Pft!! Not bloody likely.

I shall once again increase my pain levels and do whatever I can to alleviate some of this shit.

I shall sign off here until my next instalment, where I’ll return to the beginning.

I’ll leave you with my other go-to sayings:

Touch Those Ta Ta’s – early detection is everything!!

Be excellent to each other xx