I have always known that one day I would hear those dreaded words, "You have cancer". My grandmother, maternal aunt and mother all were diagnosed during my youth. Unfortunately, my mother was the only non-survivor of this group. Twenty-two years after her death (at age 38), I was diagnosed. Within five weeks I had bilateral mastectomies with implant reconstruction. Because the tumour was small, there was no indication of cancerous cells in the rest of the breast tissue and none of the lymph nodes were affected, I did not require chemotherapy or radiation. (The tumour was also grade 1, the slowest growing). I have just completed three out of five years of Tamoxifen.
My grandmother welcomed me "to the club". Her attitude has always been, "why not me?", rather than, "why me?". It definitely helps to keep a positive outlook during recovery. I do not feel that I had any battle at all, since the surgery was all that I required. I admire all those other women who did need further treatment and fought for their lives.
Now, three years later, my younger sister (age 33) has been diagnosed. I now live in the UK, and because of my strong family history, genetic testing was carried out. It shows a mutation for the BRCA-2 gene. I have two young daughters and one young son, and I hope that they will be able to use that information to prepare themselves for whatever may lie in their futures.
My husband's sister was also diagnosed last year--she unfortunately had a more aggressive form and required chemo--she is an inspiration.
Breast cancer has always been a factor in our lives. I hope one day they do find a cure and stop the destructive lineage that is in my (and many others) family.
Jonesborough, Newry, United Kingdom