Age Diagnosed With IBC:
Year Of Your Diagnosis:
It started one day in November with pain in my left breast - a prickling sensation which felt as if the plastic tag from a clothes label had fallen inside my bra. I Googled "breast pain" and found inflammatory breast cancer (among lots of other possible causes) in the results. I waited a couple of months to see if the sensation changed at different times in my monthly cycle, or spread to the other breast. It didn't change. By this time, parts of my breast were starting to go hard, with dimpling on the skin, but no lump, and I put off going to the doctor because I thought I would be told off for wasting the doctor's time with attention-seeking behaviour. However at the back of my mind I still had a nagging doubt that it might be cancer. I waited to see if the symptoms were still there after our holiday - they were, and by late March my whole breast had swollen, gone hard, with an extensive area of red skin and what looked like insect bites, but still no lump. I also had swellings in my armpit which I thought were just swollen glands from a minor throat infection. So I made an appointment to see the doctor early one Monday morning. I will never forget the look of horror on her face when she examined me. After an urgent 2 week referral to the hospital for biopsies, mammogram, MRI scan, CT scan and bone scan I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Grade 3 HER2+ ER- PR- Inflammatory Breast Cancer, which was treated with chemotherapy, modified radical mastectomy and axillary lymph node clearance, radiotherapy, and a year of Herceptin. The area of cancer was 60mm x 80mm, and had spread to at least 6 lymph nodes under my arm.
How You Got Through Treatment:
I am now healthy, despite several recurrence / spread scares that have so far turned out to be false alarms. I have had a DIEP reconstruction of my left breast, and I am on the waiting list to have lipofilling, reduction of my right breast to match, and nipple reconstruction. My job was the main thing that got me through treatment, as it provided a means of distracting myself from having cancer and gave me a sense of at least some things carrying on as normal. I was lucky enough that the side effects weren't severe enough to stop me working, as my job is mainly office based and I can work from home. I had a complete response to chemotherapy.
Advice For Those With IBC: