Hi, my name is Lorena and in May 2020 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
My story began at the beginning of the year, January 2020.
I first discovered the lump in my left breast when I was showering. I told my partner about it and, of course, he wanted me to get it checked straight away. However, I chose not to.
I mean, I have no family history, my diet was fairly balanced, I regularly exercised and I’m only 29 years old.
Four months passed and we noticed the lump was bigger than we remembered so I booked in with my GP. She was assuring and told me not to worry. She recommended a biopsy just to be safe and I managed to get in the very next day.
I was called into my Doctor’s to chat about the results and even up until then, I was so confident I went to the appointment alone.
Then the verdict hit me like a freight train. The news that I had breast cancer was simply too much to comprehend. I was in complete shock and disbelief. I remember thinking, "why me?". That’s all I could think about. Why me?
I immediately called my partner and he was there, holding me while reality sucked me into a black hole.
I think the hardest part about it was telling my family, especially my mum. They were shocked to say the least. It was emotional and we all sat in silence briefly but they reassured me that we were all in this together and that together, we were going to beat this.
The next week was just mass information overload. All the medication, procedures and tests sounded like a movie. I had so much thinking to do, my brain hurt.
Speaking with the oncologist about all the symptoms that can come with chemotherapy, possible loss of fertility hit me the hardest. Not being able to have children was just not an option for me so we decided to undergo “emergency IVF”. This simply meant our IVF cycle was done within a 10-day window.
I was grateful I had this option but a thousand questions ran through my head. I only have this one chance – what if I didn’t work? It also didn’t help that I was injected with hormones that made me an emotional mess and amplified all the emotions I was feeling.
I’ve learnt that your mind and the way we think is very powerful so I cut off all these negative thoughts and questions and reminded myself every day that it was going to work. It wasn’t easy to switch off my busy mind but I started doing little things like meditating. I would lie in a quiet room with a mantra playing. I also did acupuncture to get my body in alignment and help toward producing healthy eggs.
When the day finally came for the procedure I was nervous but also very excited because I knew I did everything I could. When I woke up I was told they retrieved 11 eggs. Over a week, these eggs were fertilised to 6 healthy embryos which really shone light through all the darkness I was often feeling.
My diet, habits and overall health had to change. I took the advice of my naturopath to cut all the nasties out of my diet, this included; sugar, gluten, dairy and meat. We switched our entire lifestyle to better suit our health and to ensure this little demon didn’t take over.
To give myself the best possible chance to fight this cancer, I decided I wanted to incorporate natural therapies, these included; multiple rounds of hyperbaric oxygen treatments (and still do), infrared sauna sessions, IV infusions, massages, acupuncture and regular consults with my naturopath to ensure I didn’t stray off of my healing path.
What felt like endless appointments, needles, tests and scans, I started my first round of chemotherapy.
Chemo ran its course from June 2020 to August 2020. It felt like a lifetime really. The symptoms we had discussed definitely took their toll. The worst being my hair. I noticed more and more on the pillows when we woke up and it was heartbreaking.
I knew it would grow back but I loved my hair. It was a part of who I was. It got to a point where I just faced the music and shaved off what was left.
Chemo was extremely hard and I had some okay days and some really terrible days. It was physically and mentally draining and again, I often kept asking myself why me?
I know better than to compare my life with anyone else’s, but with social media it was hard not to be jealous of friends that were off camping for the weekend or enjoying the sun at the beach or going out to meet friends for a coffee but… I had to keep reminding myself that this feeling was only temporary and that the treatment was in my body to do one job and that was to shrink the tumour.
After it all, I came out the other side of chemo and started to mend.
Surgery was just over a week ago and it was a great success. I went in confident and ready for this next chapter. I woke up to the surgeon telling me he removed the tumour, cleared a good margin and took out lymph nodes for biopsy.
The biopsy results returned with no cancer cells detected - I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.
Next step on from here is to heal my body, ready for what’s next.
Throughout my whole journey thus far, I have had endless amounts of support. I have been completely overwhelmed by the pure love I’ve received – not only from family and friends but from complete strangers or people I might not necessarily speak to on a regular basis but in some way offered their support.
My sisters and cousin orchestrated fundraisers for me whilst going through the current health pandemic. For people to take time out of their lives to support me, even companies that have donated their products and time to help with fundraisers whilst doing it tough, is indescribable.
I felt truly blessed and I can’t thank everyone enough. Also, I can’t forget the beautiful and amazing warriors who have experienced this cancer journey themselves who were there for me and shared their experiences with me. Without the help and support of all these amazing people, this hurdle in my life would never have been met.
Whilst I no longer have cancer in my body, my journey is not over just yet. I see the radiation oncologist this week to discuss radiation treatment which is something I’m currently sitting on the fence about.
But whatever my decision, I will be committed 100% to ensure I do everything on my part to never have to go through this again.
Writing this has triggered so many emotions and when I look back it's hard to believe I went through all of this. I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard and I don’t think I’ll ever know why I got it, but I’ve learnt so much along the way and I’m much stronger for it.
The thought of reoccurrence absolutely scares me but for now, I’m trying to focus all my energy on the present and all the things I have to look forward to, for instance, my hair finally growing back, my niece is due this week and of course our wedding. Our life will never be the same again but we’re slowly learning to adapt to our new normal.
If there’s any advice I can give it would be to self examine - check your boobies.
Ladies, you know your own body more than anyone else. If you have any doubts at all, no matter how small, please get checked out. Early detection is key. And to the beautiful warriors on this journey at the moment, know that you’re not alone. Please keep a positive attitude because you will get through this.
As my friend once told me, this is simply a small chapter of your life, not the whole story.
You’ve totally got this <3
For more breast health advice, read our other Breast Cancer Awareness Month post - How To Improve Breast Health - 13 Tips from a Naturopath
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