About this story
Lauren was diagnosed with aggressive HR positive stage two breast cancer. She was a fit and healthy 33-year-old with no family history. She decided to write a letter to her past self which she wishes she could’ve read when she started treatment.
On 7 June 2018 I was diagnosed with an aggressive HR positive stage two breast cancer. I was a fit and healthy 33-year-old with no family history, and I never checked my breasts.
One day I went to my GP to fill a script and thought I would mention this tiny pea shaped lump I could feel on my left breast. It had been bothering me for about a month and was slightly painful to touch. I thought it would be a side effect from coming off the pill. I had recently stopped taking the contraceptive pill after being on it for 15 years and the doctor told me it was probably nothing, but she sent me for a scan “just in case”.
The scan took much longer than expected and different doctors were called in before deciding to do a needle biopsy. I started to get a bit worried, but I kept telling myself it would be fine. I went back to work the next day and pushed the negative thoughts to the back of my mind, but at the end of the week I got a call from my doctor’s office to come in for the results. I knew it was bad.
“I’m so sorry, it’s cancer” is all I remember hearing. I was numb.
I drove home alone and told my partner. That night we stood in the kitchen crying and hugging.
The next week I didn’t go back to work, instead I went to what felt like a million doctor’s appointments. I was overwhelmed with information. I saw two breast surgeons, an oncologist, and a fertility specialist because I learned chemo can affect fertility and I didn’t have children yet.
The next nine months were a blur. I started with IVF, my partner and I chose to freeze embryos because they have a better chance of surviving the freezing process and then I had surgery to remove the cancer. I’m lucky that I caught my cancer early, and it was small enough to remove without losing my whole breast.
I went through 16 cycles of chemotherapy over five months, lost all my hair, went into early menopause and had eight weeks of radiation which I finished on my 34th birthday.
Just when I thought it was all over, I was told I would need to be on weekly hormone injections for ten years to stop my cancer returning.
After finishing treatment I felt alone and found it difficult to return to my life before cancer. I had side effects from treatment that none of my friends understood, I found social situations uncomfortable because I no longer felt or looked like myself, and I found it difficult to concentrate on work and study.
Two and half years after my cancer diagnosis I think back to what I went through and I am so proud of myself for not giving up. Some days are still hard but now I know I have the strength to get through it. I decided to write a letter to my past self which I wish I could’ve read when I started treatment.
7 June 2018 will be the worst day of your life.
The week will start out great, you will travel to different locations for work, plan a holiday with your partner and have dinner with friends, but by the end of the week your life will change forever.
You will spend the first two weeks in tears, scared of what’s to come, worried that you won’t make it through the hardest period of your life.
Your partner, family and friends will be there to support you, but you will fight this battle alone.
The nights will be long, and the days will be dark.
You will lose your hair, you will feel horrible, and you won’t feel like yourself anymore.
You will want to give up and it will almost break you.
But be brave Lauren. You are stronger than you know. You will get through this.
There will be people to help you along the way and you will be surprised at the connections you form with complete strangers going through a similar journey.
After treatment you will be a different person, and it will be hard at first, but you will learn to love yourself again, you will appreciate the little things so much more and you will rebuild your life into something amazing!
Lauren, you will marry your best friend surrounded by your family and friends.
A year later you will fall pregnant, and you will get the happy ending you deserve.
Love me xo
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Tips to ensure people in same-sex relationships have access to the right health professionals and support following a diagnosis
Let’s be upfront about death, dying and mortality.
Let’s be upfront about pain, side effects and palliative care.
Let’s be upfront about different perspectives during and beyond a breast cancer diagnosis.
Let’s be upfront about behavioural changes.
Let’s be upfront about life after cancer treatment.
*This article does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
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