My name is Leigh and I am 45 years old. There is no breast cancer in our family and I was the first one. I had a scare 8 years ago finding a lump in my right breast and luckily it was nothing, so since then I always do regular self checks. It was December 2019, I felt a weird lump in my left breast. Thought it could be from my cycle so I waited a few weeks. In January 2020 it was still there and I decided to go for a mammogram. Well that turned out to be the worst mammogram ever. I ended up having a biopsy as something did not look good. This was on a Thursday so I had to wait the whole weekend for the results. On Monday morning I got the phone call, and was told over the phone I HAVE CANCER. Worst Day Ever. I went into instant panic and my first thought AM I GOING TO DIE.
That week I had seen my surgeon and oncologist and my first chemo was scheduled 2 weeks later. I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, stage 1 grade 3. This particular breast cancer cells don’t have oestrogen or progesterone receptors, its aggressive and fast growing. I was terrified, had no idea what to expect or what was going to happen but I trusted my surgeon and oncologist and did exactly what they said. I had 2 rounds of the ‘red devil’ (us Pink Ladies, my breast cancer support group, call it the Red Angel as it saves our lives) not 4 as prescribed as it was affecting my immune system and white blood cells. Then Covid hit us and because it was fast growing I was advised it would be best to have a left mastectomy. During this time you don’t really have time to think but just do and go through the process to get rid of the cancer. In April I had a left mastectomy then started with a lower dose of chemo weekly for 12 weeks. It was really a tough couple of months going through body changes, loosing my long blonde hair, going into pre-menopause, feeling so sick, tired, emotional and loss of appetite. Some days I didn’t even want to get out of bed.
I was extremely lucky and forever grateful to have had Jason by my side, supporting me, taking me to my chemo sessions, making sure I was comfortable at home. Because of Covid I was not allowed to see anyone as my immune system was compromised so that was really difficult. My daughter was super strong and supportive and my family and friends were amazing. My dad has gone through cancer and chemo so he knew what I was going through. (today he is still in remission).
In July 2020, I finally rang the bell in oncology after my last chemo and all tests came back clear, that I was now finally cancer free. I also had a BRCA gene test which was sent overseas and thankfully this came back negative. Today as I am typing this story, 22 December 2022, I can thankfully say with a grateful, happy thankful heart that I am still in remission and go for regular check ups every 6 months. I am so so blessed and thankful to everyone in my life during my cancer journey. I encourage woman and men of ALL ages to have regular check ups, don’t wait until you’re 40. Early detection can saves lives.