I was 31 and living in Newcastle with my young family. I had not long finished breastfeeding my son when I noticed my breast was painful and had a hard spot. Initially, I thought it must be something to do with a blocked milk duct, but my family suggested I get it checked out. The GP said not to worry, but I wanted to get more checks, including an ultrasound and a biopsy.
These were inconclusive and my GP said to come back in 12 months. I really wanted to know what this was, so I insisted on having more tests, including a core biopsy and a mammogram. I had to push at every point for further investigations because of my age and the fact that I had just finished breastfeeding. When the GP told me I had breast cancer, I was absolutely devastated.
I had a two-week wait between being told, ‘You have breast cancer’ and my first surgeon’s appointment. I was so stressed that I was physically sick. It was an awful waiting game. Thankfully my oncologist was very supportive during my treatment and I had access to a fantastic breast care nurse, who I saw every day when I was in the hospital for my mastectomy.
Looking back on my experience two years down the track, I definitely needed to be taken seriously as a young woman with breast symptoms. I know there would have been many women who would have walked away from the GP and gone back in 12 months. I hate to think what would have happened had I listened to my GP’s advice. I also needed support when I was dealing with the stress of hearing those words, ‘You have breast cancer’.