Just three months before her wedding, Andie's diagnosis of Paget's Disease led to a whirlwind of medical appointments, chemotherapy and a complicated mastectomy.
At 27 years old, three months out from my (meant to be) wedding day, my GP broke the news to me that I had Paget's Disease of the nipple.
The very next day I was rushed off for ultrasounds, mammograms, CT scans and biopsies which confirmed that I also had a small, but aggressive tumour in my breast. At this stage time moved very quickly. I met with surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, fertility specialists and genetic counsellors.
I had to share the news of my diagnosis with my family, friends, and colleagues. I spent hours on the phone retelling my reality, answering questions, listening to other people's tears, and most importantly, reassuring everyone that I would be okay; my medical team was confident this would just be a bump in the road.
I completed five months of chemotherapy - all on my own - it was peak COVID at the time. I think this was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I kind of enjoyed being isolated as there was no pressure to put on a brave face. I was exhausted, bald, and gaining weight. I was sick of being asked "how are you feeling?" and "when will you get better?" from well-intended friends.
I remember wondering if my tummy would ever feel normal again, if I would ever be able to walk for longer than 15 minutes, or if there would be a day where I wasn't feeling exhausted by 10am.
While I had known from day one that I would have to have a mastectomy, I don't think it ever sunk in that I was losing a part of me. A really important biological part of me.
Unfortunately, I had some complications from my surgery, and what was meant to be a single mastectomy and 'direct-to-implant' surgery turned into three implants, two tissue expanders and now finally, six months after my initial surgery, I finally have my 'forever' boob. I also had my dream wedding.
At the end of my chemotherapy, my parents organised for me to do an art class with Anna. I loved it. It was so nice to be able to be creative and have a good laugh. I am so touched that Anna has chosen to support BCNA. The information they provide is incredibly helpful to so many people who are impacted by breast cancer, whether that be patients or carers.
While going through my own breast cancer experience, I’ve found BCNA’s resources helpful. During COVID I accessed the Look Good Feel Better workshop as well as the online webinars which I found through the @BCNAPinkLady Instagram page.
If this story has raised any issues for you - please call the helpline on 1800 500 258
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*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
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