PUBLISHED ON: 19 February 2021

Lucy was just 28 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She faced a recurrence only three years later. She’s now taking part in a clinical trial. 

Lucy, a white woman with short brown hair, takes a smiling selfie while getting chemotherapy treatment

I thought I was too young to get cancer 

I was initially diagnosed in September 2016 at the age of 28 with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. I was naive to the fact I could have breast cancer at such a young age, so when I got the bad news, it came as a huge shock!  

I usually face my fears, but this was one I was willing to keep beneath the surface. I was playing Whack-A-Mole with my reality: I was continuously batting away every thought that crept in. 

Having a recurrence was my worst fear 

Three years after being declared NED (no evidence of disease), I had a check-up with my surgeon. A lump was discovered under my left armpit (where the cancer was initially) and I knew instantly from the look on his face that it wasn’t good.  

After an urgent biopsy and ultrasound, it was later confirmed in February 2020 that the cancer had returned. Thankfully, after a CT scan, it was confirmed that it only affected the lymph nodes under my armpit.   

Having to face cancer once is enough, but knowing the battle was never really won in the beginning is disheartening. I questioned every life choice I had made since and, knowing my one fear had come to fruition, I lost all confidence in myself.  

I’m trying a brand new treatment through a clinical trial 

This time around, my treatment is totally different. I am on a clinical trial - Atezolizumab which is an immunotherapy and nab-paclitaxol chemotherapy.  

I have fortnightly infusions, and I am now on my 11th cycle (there is currently no end date). This particular trial for triple negative breast cancer is new to my oncologist and, in her words, ‘you‘re my guinea pig’.   

The treatment is more tolerable this time around and my hair has grown back.  

I am pleased to say that all my scans have been clear since treatment commenced.  

I am grateful to have my husband and daughter for support 

I have taken my recurrence harder than my initial diagnosis, but the knowledge I gained the first time around has helped me transition back to being a cancer patient. I know what to expect with treatment and appointments with my oncology team.   

Overall, though, my outlook on life in general has changed. I appreciate the small things and have found comfort in helping others through their journeys by being so transparent about my own diagnosis.   

My daughter and husband have supported me immensely through this diagnosis and, with COVID-19 added to the mix, we have managed to spend quality time together.  

Opening up about my recurrence has been difficult, but worthwhile 

I continue to write my blogs about my current journey through the highs and lows. I have also carried on working from home while going through treatment; it gives me something other than cancer to focus on.   

Recurrence isn’t something many people open up about. I completely understand why, because it was my ultimate fear, but I have found that being an open book has not just helped me but also others on their journeys.  

To everyone reading: please keep checking your breasts! 

 

If you have had breast cancer and are concerned about a recurrence, make sure to familiarise yourself with the signs and symptoms.

Recurrence symptoms