My first diagnosis followed routine screening. I recovered well from the skin sparing surgery but found the 20 fractions of radiotherapy surprisingly draining.
10 years on, routine screening detected a new primary or a local recurrence. It was a shock. On both occasions, the cancer was undetectable other than via mammogram.
A mastectomy was necessary and decisions had to be made. Reconstruction: Was it for me? What type? Immediately or delay? Would that impact on my hobbies (sailing, yoga, walking and swimming)? Chemotherapy: Would the benefits outweigh the side effects? Endocrine treatment: Again, would the benefits outweigh the reported side effects?
I decided on immediate reconstruction with DIEP flap as felt that would give me my best chance of getting on with my life and feeling 'like me'.
My oncologist agreed to an Oncotype DX test to decide whether chemotherapy was indicated. I had 6 cycles of FEC-T every 3 weeks. The regimen was tough but I'm glad I went through with it.
When it came to Letrozole, I decided to start the treatment but stop if I felt too unwell. It took a few months but I am tolerating the drug and expect to remain on it for the full 10 years.
Having a second diagnosis 10 years after the first was traumatic and I know how hard it can be to get to grips with all the terminology. But I have regained my positive outlook. I'll do my best to help and to support you in your decision making. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org