Shortly after New Year, Rashmi received a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis. Almost a year on, she has finished treatment and is urging other people to take seriously any changes in their breasts.

Rashmi, with closely cropped hair, wearing a light pink jumper, holding a little pet dog

Waiting for that appointment before Christmas was agony

I found a very big lump one day last November. I was standing with my arm stretched right over my head, wiping off some talc powder. I felt it straight away.

I showed it to my husband and said it was probably a cyst that would go away. My husband insisted I contact the doctor to be checked, which I did. The doctor checked the lump and referred me for an urgent appointment at the breast clinic. It wasn’t until a whole month later that I got a hospital appointment.

The hardest part was waiting for that appointment just before Christmas. I had a mammogram, ultrasound and five biopsies taken on 23 December. I knew from the body language of the doctor, and the biopsies taken by the consultant, that it was cancer.

I returned a few days after New Year to be told I had triple negative breast cancer which had not spread to the lymph nodes and was 4.5cm big. I was angry at myself for not noticing this before. I remember noticing a bit of tenderness in my breast in the summer, but put it down to the menopause.

I want to raise more awareness about triple negative breast cancer

After my diagnosis, I had scans and was told the cancer had not spread.

I started four months of chemotherapy and my midway scans showed a significant reduction in tumour size. I had a wide excision lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy in June. The pathology report showed I had responded well to chemotherapy and that the cancer cells had gone. I then started two weeks of radiotherapy. 

I’m aware that triple negative breast cancer is a more aggressive cancer and I want to raise awareness of this. It's more difficult to treat and I was lucky to notice it when I did – otherwise it could have been a different story.

My treatment has finished and I’m trying to move on

I kept reasonably well through the chemotherapy treatment, although I suffered from mouth sores and ulcers. With the paclitaxel chemotherapy sessions I started to get lots of pain in my legs, and skin rashes. I lost my hair really quickly after the second cycle. Radiotherapy didn’t affect me at all, although I’m still having episodes of fatigue.

Unfortunately, I’ve been left with peripheral neuropathy in my legs and feet which I’m on medication for.

I’m happy I got through it all, but it’s like my security blanket has been lifted. It was very scary to walk out of the hospital on my last day of radiotherapy - it's all I've known for the last nine months.

I’m glad to say all my treatment has finished and I’m trying to move on with my life. I know it’ll take time to get my head around all of this, but I’m taking one day at a time.  

I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness shown by everyone

My husband and I waited until I had a confirmed diagnosis before we told our two grown-up children. They were shocked and upset at first, then accepting and supportive. 

My friends have been an amazing support and at times accompanied me to the many appointments I had, as my husband works away and couldn’t always be with me.

I have felt overwhelmed by the kindness shown by everyone. My “work family” have been there for me all the way along, and through my experience I’ve met other women who’ve been going through the same experience as me - these people will be my friends for life.

Breast Cancer Now has been able to answer any worries or questions I’ve had and continues to be wonderfully supportive. I used the website to access information as I went through various stages of treatment, and also used the forums, and I joined quite a few Facebook Live sessions.

Rashmi, with closely cropped hair, wearing a white jumper, looking thoughtful

Be aware of any changes to your breasts – no matter how small

The best advice I can give is to not put off checking out any changes in your breasts. It’s important to be aware of any changes, no matter how small, as the sooner treatment is started, the better the outcome can be.

Triple negative breast cancer is a rare form which accounts for only around 15% of breast cancers and its early detection is more likely to result in a positive outcome.

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