Hi I am Anna, I have two lovely daughters and a supportive Husband James , who is my absolute rock.
We were all looking forward to a family holiday back in May 2016. At the time my daughters were aged 6 and 9 and myself aged 36. I had just recently felt a lump in my right breast.
My initial examination with my consultant, was quite reassuring as he advised the texture of the lump, he thought it might be benign. However just to be sure, he arranged an ultrasound , as I was classed as “too young” for a mammogram. The ultrasound turned into a biopsy and an anxious two week wait followed.
I received the unfortunate news that although the lump I had felt was benign, the ultrasound had actually picked up two other very small tumours that were cancerous. James seemed really shocked whilst I went into some sort of auto-pilot mode.
I had to think how I could make the journey I was about to start with the least effect on my family. Looking back, I now also deeply regret the way I shared my news with many family and friends. I suppose news and diagnosis effect people in different ways.
Looking back at the conversation that followed my diagnoses, I am a bit mortified. My consultant gave me a date for my lumpectomy but I refused, saying that I was sorry that I couldn’t make that day as we would be on holiday. Maybe I was in some sort of denial.
Hastened to say we didn’t make that holiday, but have since made up for.
My diagnosis was favourable though, as my consultant advised I had the “least invasive type” The plan was to have a lumpectomy followed by some radiotherapy. Yep I could do that... it would just be a blip in my life. Considering others peoples situations, I felt a little bit of a “fake .“
The lumpectomy resulted in the detection, that my tumours were actually more than 5 cms and they recommended that I have a mastectomy. Suddenly my positivity, openness and outlook changed. This is when it actually hit me. I was now looking at lots of different procedures and results. My initial response was to just cut the breast off, get it off now and be done with it. I thought I couldn’t be bothered with reconstruction.
After much thought, contemplating and lots of research. I decided to go for the DELP flap none delayed reconstruction.
The Medical Part ;
The DIEP flap is major surgery involving a long and complex operation. A DIEP reconstruction uses a free flap of skin and fat, but no muscle, to form the new breast shape. The flap is taken from the lower abdomen and uses the skin and fat between the belly button (umbilicus) and the groin along with the artery and veins . It is called DIEP because deep blood vessels called the deep inferior epigastric perforators are used. The free flap is transferred to the chest and shaped into a breast while the artery and veins are connected to blood vessels in the armpit or chest wall using a specialised technique called microvascular surgery.
The decision to have this type of reconstruction was not easy and the recovery took some time. I consider myself to be very lucky to have the love and support of my husband, family and friends, to which I am externally grateful.
Throughout the rollercoaster of a ride, I look back and feel so grateful that my doctor sent me for an ultrasound where the tumours were detected. Which questions, if mammograms should in fact be offered routinely at an earlier age? After sharing my diagnosis with friends and acquaintances, I was shocked at how many people do not check their breasts and are not breast aware. So, by being involved in this campaign, and if by sharing my story we can reach out to younger men and women to learn to be breast aware then it’s worth it.
Although this has been difficult to write and share, for me the journey was just a blip. Anybody recently diagnosed, if my story can uplift them and know with early detection breast cancer can be their blip. Prevent Brest Cancer are an amazing charity that fund vital research. I will be scared and nervous at BrestFest, but I want to show you can come through it. I live my life very differently now and I realise how incredibly lucky life is :)