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In the Summer Edition of What’s News we feature the patient story of Kiara. Kiara was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age and speaks about the months of surgery and chemotherapy that followed. Kiara is an inspiring young woman and we are privileged to share her story with you.
I had just celebrated my 30th birthday, started a new job, formed a new relationship with my soul mate and I was blissfully happy. Just when I thought my life was perfect and nothing could burst my bubble my whole world was rocked.
On what was a normal Tuesday night at home, I was lying in bed with my partner watching Netflix, only for him to discover a lump in my breast. My stomach dropped, I felt instantly ill and had the gut instinct that what we had discovered was going to be a tumour. With the knowledge of me having the BRCA1 mutation I booked into the doctors immediately the next day. I was then referred for an ultrasound which acknowledged the lump was not a cyst, and I was then referred for a core biopsy the next day.
On the 27th March 2020 I was called in urgently to the doctors. My heart was racing, I knew the results were bad. Sitting down facing my doctor before she could even get the words out I said, “I have cancer don’t I?”, and on that day I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancer. It was aggressive and growing fast, but my first reaction was wanting to know what I had to do to fight this . Being told I had cancer was the easy part, then having to call my partner and family and explain to them my diagnosis was absolutely heart breaking.
Among all this madness COVID-19 had just hit and the world was in a frenzy as it was. Being diagnosed with cancer in a pandemic added extra stress to my situation. I was lucky enough to have been recommended Professor Arlene Chan and Dr Peter Willsher by a friend, and booked in immediately with Dr Willsher three days later. After discussing my options with Peter it was obvious that my best chance of beating this was to attack the cancer straight away with chemotherapy, as my cancer cells were growing at 87%. Only three weeks later, after a consultation with Professor Chan and several tests, I was in for my first round of chemotherapy. I felt numb, lost in a whirlwind of emotions that I cannot describe, but I was so determined that cancer was not going to beat me. I am so young, I have so much life to live and too many people I care about who I was not ready to leave.
After five and half months of gruelling chemotherapy I was well and truly knocked down and exhausted, but it still wasn’t going to stop me. I finally made it through 11 rounds of chemo but not without the pain, fatigue, nausea and not to mention emotional strain. Two months later it was surgery time. I had a bilateral double mastectomy and reconstruction with tissue expanders. After the surgery I got the most fantastic news that the surgery could not have been more successful, and between that and the chemotherapy they had removed all the cancer from my body. This made all the pain and exhaustion feel worthwhile. Five weeks later I am still in recovery and pain every day, but it has all been worth it.
I will keep fighting and do whatever I have to do to stay healthy. I will be forever extremely grateful for the amazing team which has got me to this point of my life, especially Professor Chan, Dr Wilsher, and my amazing nurses Cath and Fran. I believe that I am extremely lucky to have met all these amazing people and I couldn’t have done it without them, my partner, family and friends. The fight is still not over, with another surgery to follow in December for the removal of my expanders and insert of implants, and then also the scary confrontation of taking away all potential risks of me developing ovarian cancer, but I am a fighter and I refuse to give up and I will not let this beat me. My biggest lesson from this experience has been that you need to be vigilant in looking after yourself, and staying on top of all testings and screenings to catch cancer early. Also that life is short. You never know what is around the corner, you need to make the most of it and appreciate the simple things in life like your family, friends and partners, and don’t dwell on things because the good old saying is true – “Life is Short ”.
To anyone who is in a similar situation or the early days of diagnosis, no doubt you are frightened about what is ahead, and probably wondering how you are going to get through this. My best advice to you is:
Thank you to anyone who has taken the time to read my story or has been there through my journey, I hope to inspire hope people the best I can.
Read more Stories of Hope.