At 25, with no family history of breast cancer, Amy’s diagnosis came as a massive shock and she struggled with the effects of her treatment. Now, 4 years on, she’s feeling stronger than ever. She has learnt to be proud of her scars and is trying for a baby.
Can you talk us through your breast cancer diagnosis?
In April 2019, I went to my GP after finding a lump. Being 25, with no family history of breast cancer, the doctor said cancer was unlikely, but she still referred me to the breast clinic. Within weeks, I was having scans at the clinic and got the dreaded news I had stage 2, grade 3 ER+ HER2+ breast cancer - something no 25-year-old expects to hear.
I didn’t know what to tell my 8-year-old son and everything happened so quickly. I had 2 surgeries, FEC chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy, and I started Tamoxifen.
The chemo made me feel tired, dizzy and nauseous – I was bed-bound for a week and worried I’d always feel poorly. But my family gave me the love and support I needed, and I got reassurance from reading Breast Cancer Now’s online stories.
Where are you now in your recovery?
In January 2023, I decided to have another mastectomy, as I didn’t feel confident having 1 breast, and I had fears about cancer returning in my remaining one.
Throughout everything, my partner has been so supportive. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. We got married in 2021 after it was postponed 5 times in the pandemic. And the day was incredible, I couldn’t ask for a better person to have in my life.
Hoping for another baby, did you need to make any changes to your treatment?
I was offered the choice to freeze my eggs before chemo, but I was told I’d need to take hormones, with the breast cancer being hormone positive. That worried me. So, instead, I took Zoladex, a drug that shuts down the ovaries to stop damage from chemotherapy. After my last bit of chemo, I stopped taking it and my periods came back within a month, proving it worked to protect my ovaries.
And I spoke to my oncologist and breast cancer nurse about Tamoxifen, a drug usually taken for 10 years after treatment. They recommended taking it for just 2 years, then coming off it to try for a baby. After 1 and a half years, I decided to stop taking it completely due to changes to my womb.
Unfortunately, Tamoxifen can cause thickening of the womb lining which can lead to infertility issues - something I didn’t want to risk with my main goal now being trying for a baby. Now, every 3-6 months, I need a hysteroscopy to keep an eye on the womb changes, and the last one showed the thickening had reduced which is good news, I have another ultrasound soon, then hopefully I’ll get the go ahead to try for a baby.
How is your relationships with your body after breast cancer?
After my second mastectomy, I have decided to live flat and be proud of my scars. I also booked a photoshoot to showcase my scars, and it made feel so confident. I loved it - I felt on top of the world that day. I was a bit reluctant to do it at first, but I wanted to show others that you can still look fantastic and feel confident after breast cancer. And I can safely say, it was the best day of my life.
Throughout my experience, I have embraced my body image and I love it more than before – I’m extremely proud of my scars.
What advice would you give to other young women with a diagnosis?
Going through breast cancer is a scary time, but there’s help everywhere you turn.
Breast Cancer Now offers support over the phone and email. And you can search for breast cancer groups on Facebook, where you can speak with others in the same situation. It’s great to have people who can relate to what you’re going through.
If you want to try for a baby after breast cancer, always check when it’s safe to start trying – most recommend 2 years after a diagnosis ends or after starting Tamoxifen. Never give up hope on starting a family - I won’t.