When Tabby found a lump in her breast, she immediately feared the worst. Since starting treatment, she feels positive about the future.
October 2020 – finding a lump
I’d woken up late on a Sunday morning with a slight wine hangover, but in one of those really positive, how-great-is-life moods.
As I lay there basking in my naïve, happy little state, I suddenly felt some sort of twinge in my right boob. Not too sure what this feeling was, I went to touch it just to see what it was all about. And that’s when I felt a lump. A marble-sized, rock-solid thing that seemed to have set up camp in my boob overnight.
Now, I’m rather ashamed to admit I wasn’t checking my boobs as often as I should have (please don’t make that same mistake), but I truly believe that twinge was my body’s way of telling me I really needed to check.
I panicked immediately
I could say I remained calm and collected upon this discovery but that would be a total lie. I am a massive hypochondriac. Seriously, even the slightest sniffle sends me into the pits of WebMD hell.
So instead of my usual Sunday morning ritual of bingeing Gilmore Girls with a bowl of Aldi’s own Crunchy Nut, I was on the phone to my mum in tears. Next thing you know, she and my dad were driving up to Manchester to take me out for lunch and try to calm me down. I'm such a bloody drama queen!
Luckily, the next day I managed to get an appointment with my GP. A quick look and feel, and she told me it was most likely nothing to worry about – I’m only 26 and have no family history of breast cancer – but she’d refer me to the breast clinic anyway just to make sure.
Two weeks later – going for tests
My boyfriend took me to the breast clinic after work. For some reason (perhaps deep down in my gut knew what was coming), I was nervous – I don’t think I uttered a word to him the entire journey. But after initially seeing the consultant, I was straight onto WhatsApp telling him everything was fine.
I believe my exact words were, ‘good news – the consultant says it’s a benign lump, but we’re just doing a few scans to make sure.’ Not-so-spoiler alert: it was not good news.
That same evening, I ended up having an ultrasound and a fine needle aspiration. Now, prior to this experience I thought I had a fairly high pain threshold. I’d sat through two tattoos, microblading, and numerous piercings including my nipple – but this really hurt! I almost passed out on the examination table, which was fairly embarrassing.
I just remember the drive back home, clutching my poor, battered boob and sobbing in pain. Did I mention I’m dramatic?
Another two weeks passed – I got my results
Finally, the day arrived after weeks of playing the waiting game. At last, I’d find out what was going on! But alas. My results were inconclusive. I needed to have another biopsy. Fan-bloody-tastic, I thought.
After another week, I went back for more tests. This time, I had a core needle biopsy under local anaesthetic (thank the lord). With no aching boob, and no big fat *CANCER ALERT* flashing up on the system, I left the appointment feeling more confident than ever that this was just a cyst or something.
I’d convinced myself at this point that this was all just precautionary. They did this to everyone in their twenties, I told myself. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. My family and friends I’d confided in had said the same. Who gets breast cancer at 26?
Well, me, apparently.
10th November 2020
I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I was given the news completely alone (thanks COVID) and all I remember next is crying, begging for my mum to be let in the room, and holding on to her until it was time to go home.
A huge mix of emotions
Since then, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster – and that’s putting it extremely mildly.
I’ve been upset. Sad for my family, friends, and boyfriend for what I’m about to put them through. I’ve felt guilty that it’s my body and I’ve somehow allowed for this to happen. I’ve been so bloody angry – how dare my body do this to me? I’ve treated her so well for 26 years, and this is how she repays me?!
So, I’ve made it through, with only a few minor breakdowns and ‘am I going to die?’ moments in tow. I’ve had to make huge decisions about my future which I’d never even considered this time last month. I’ve moved back home with my parents. I’ve discussed my fertility options. I’ve told friends, family members, and colleagues about my diagnosis.
I have been overwhelmed by the support
My life has completely turned upside down in a very short space of time. But honestly, I feel good. I feel overwhelmed with love, positivity and good vibes. Everyone has been supportive and amazing. And with each day and every hospital visit, I’m one step closer to beating this thing.
I simply want to share my experience with cancer in a way that might help anyone else in the same situation. Because it is scary. And it’s really hard when you’re only 26 and you’re ‘too young to have cancer’.
So, if you’re a member of the ‘C club’, I want to let you know that I'm here for you and sending so many positive vibes your way. Stay strong – we have so got this.
Oh and please, remember to check your damn boobs!
Being diagnosed with primary breast cancer at a young age can feel isolating. It never has to. Our Younger Women Together Online Course is there for women under 45 who have had a diagnosis in the last three years.