9 Major Breast Cancer Signs: ‘What Cancer Taught Me At 27’
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Just days after the death of actress Olivia Newton-John.
This week, Olivia Newton-John tragically passed away from breast cancer after a thirty-year battle with the disease. Therefore, we are making it our mission to educate you about the symptoms of breast cancer which often go unnoticed.
While there aren’t many obvious signs that you have the disease, it’s worth reading for subtle red flags to find out.
Why? Well, simply put, because every year in the UK 11,500 women and 85 men still die from breast cancer. To put that in context, in the UK alone, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every ten minutes, according to CoppaFeel.
Here, a woman shares her inspiring story of bravery, strength and battling stage three cancer during the global pandemic. Natasha Lewis was only 27 when she discovered a small lump in her breast, but it shocked her body. She knew something was wrong.
Before You Read Her Humble Story, Tell Jacqueline Lewis, A Consultant Breast Surgeon Bupa Cromwell HospitalShare some important stats on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and what you should keep an eye on, no matter your age.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer that I should pay attention to?
Often the first symptom women notice is a lump or area of thick tissue in the breast or underarm.
Other common symptoms are:
- change in the size of one or both of your breasts
- fluid discharge from any of your nipples
- Changes in the look and feel of your breasts or nipples.
Less common symptoms may include a burning or rash on the breasts or nipples and bloody discharge from the nipples.
How often should I check my breasts?
Since every woman’s breasts are different, there is no right or wrong way to check them. It is important that you engage in a regular routine of examining your breasts so that you can identify any changes and report them to your GP.
What’s the best way to do this?
To properly examine your breasts, make sure you are checking your entire breast area. Look at the size and shape of each breast and feel for any lumps. Don’t forget to check your nipples, armpits, and the skin on your breasts as well.
At what age should you start testing?
There is no specific age that you should start examining your breasts. However, the sooner you start, the more likely you’ll be able to identify what’s normal for you and if there’s anything unusual.
Once you are over 50, you will be invited for a breast screening mammogram. You will be offered this screening every three years until age 70. However, it is important to note that you should still examine your breasts regularly – a breast screening mammogram should not replace your regular breast screening.
‘At the age of 27, I found out I had stage 3 breast cancer. Here’s what he taught me’
“My name is Natasha Lewis and I am a 28 year old teacher from Hertfordshire. I work full time, but love baking and going to the gym in my spare time. I’ve spent the last few years really getting into my fitness and doing a lot of weight training. I love weight training—I’m constantly pushing myself to see how much I can lift.”
“I first noticed the lump during a shower in early February 2020. I bathe this way every day, so I am aware of any changes in my body and this was the first time I felt a lump in the upper right side of my right breast.
“I was alone at home and I was really unsure what to do. My body’s natural reaction was to sit or I was going to pass out. As I had such an extreme reaction to what I felt like “I knew it could be something much more serious than just a hormonal change. If I didn’t have that reaction to the lump, I wouldn’t have been able to visit my GP.”
“I found that a week later I had checked the lump. I was offered a fast, but as before I was poorly looked after with swollen glands, which is a fairly regular occurrence for me, So I wanted to give it a few days to make sure it wasn’t the cause of the lump.
“I remember how nervous I felt that day. I am quite self-conscious of my body and don’t necessarily feel comfortable showing my breasts to a male GP. Once I met him, I felt more relaxed, and immediately reassured and comforted. I knew that no matter how nervous it made me feel, I was doing the right thing to take care of myself. ,
“A takeaway for me: You can’t be self-conscious when it comes to your health. I felt too nervous to show my breasts to the GP, but I knew it was the right thing to do. Plus, a therapy It’s their job as a professional to try to make you feel comfortable wherever possible. I really urge anyone who feels the same way as me, to check in as soon as possible. It’s something It’s over in time and not as embarrassing as you make it up in your mind.”
“Shortly after I examined my breast, my GP told me it was nothing serious. He said that because I was young and there was no history of breast cancer in my family, he didn’t think I should worry. However, since he could not guarantee it, he sent me for further testing. ”
“I was lucky that the GP sent me for further tests and took my concerns seriously. Although he didn’t think it was cancer, he wanted to end everything, especially when I was very young. I am so happy That he listened to me and worried, as was I, about the reaction that I had when I found the lump.”
playing waiting games
“Next came the wait. I tried to keep myself and my mind busy until I had the ultrasound, but I still can’t remember how I reacted when I first found the lump. Only me knew It was not a normal part of my breast and it was like nothing else I had ever experienced.”
“I was given an ultrasound and a biopsy. In the ultrasound, I saw shading. It was at that point that I knew it was cancer. I remember talking to the person doing the ultrasound and saying I knew shadowing meant cancer, but he was unable to confirm it until I had a biopsy later that day.
“Four days later, I had a follow-up appointment with the GP to tell me the results. I had prepared myself mentally for the worst, even though all my friends and family were telling me to stay positive. When When the GP came to pick me up, he didn’t say a word for the whole walk from the waiting area to the consultation room. It doubled-up confirmation for me that it had to be cancer.”
“I felt numb even though I knew it was coming”
“He sat me down and came out confirming that I had breast cancer. Worse, he warned that it was growing rapidly, and insisted how lucky I was to have it when I had After that he went through the process of what would happen next and to whom would I be referred for treatment.”
“I felt numb, although I knew it was coming. I am a realist and want to know the facts and what happens next. I the wanted To know when my next appointment was and how to get rid of cancer—as soon as possible.”
“It struck me that there was some alien growing inside me that I couldn’t control. But I knew I had to take back control and get rid of it. It was also the day I named my tumor – Friedel – Named after the former Tottenham goalkeeper whom I loved.
cure my cancer
“I was referred directly to meet my surgeon, Mr Giles Davis, at Bupa Cromwell Hospital. He was very sweet and friendly, which gave me some comfort. He explained to me the different types of cancer and the different treatment options for each type. I had no understanding of cancer – I didn’t even know it could be of many types. He made it very clear to me what my options would be.
It hit me that there was some alien growing inside me that I couldn’t control
“Another setback came when we found out I was triple negative, which meant I wasn’t hormone receptive and my tumor wouldn’t respond to certain treatments. Then Giles referred me to an oncologist and explained that my tumor was chemotherapy. followed by a lumpectomy.
“I was also told that I needed to protect my fertility since I was only 27. It was suggested that I went in for egg harvesting, which meant a month of fertility treatments, with After hormone-blocking injections throughout chemo and a year later.”
“Before the chemo started, I was sent for several scans and tests to make sure the cancer was in just one spot and to check its size and shape.”
initiation of chemotherapy
“I started chemo on April 3rd which continued till August 28th. I had a total of 16 rounds. If you are wondering why the process was so long, or why I had so many dizziness, it was because of that type of cancer Which happened to me – a lot of people shouldn’t, but unfortunately for me, I did.”
“I was lucky enough to be given the option of using a cold cap, although it doesn’t work for everyone. Cold caps help regrow hair. It’s been over a month since the chemo ended And I already have a thick layer of hair on my head.”
“After 16 rounds of chemo, I met again with Giles, who explained that since my tumor was so sensitive to chemo, the lumpectomy would be a minimally invasive procedure that would help keep scarring to a minimum.”
Dealing with cancer during the pandemic
“I won’t lie, the treatment was really lonely, I wasn’t allowed to have my family or partner accompany me. I can’t even see friends, because I’m shielding my low immune system (thanks, chemotherapy) Am.
“The nursing team was absolutely unbelievable throughout my operation and chemotherapy. They became my second family. The hardest part of all was being without contact – if I had a bad day, they wouldn’t hug me.”
“A week after the surgery, I met again with Giles, who told me I had a full response to the surgery and chemo. It meant I was now cancer-free. I can’t describe that feeling.”
“The next step is 10 sessions of radiotherapy to keep me from recurring in the future.”
What I want you to know…
1. Get It Checked—Don’t Wait
“If you’re concerned about your breast health at all, remember, you know your body better than anyone else. If you’re not sure about something, get it checked out. The sooner, the better. OK. Don’t wait.”
2. You are not alone
“And remember, you’re not alone. If you find yourself in this situation, know that other women are experiencing the same thing. They understand what you’re going through, and very unique.” We are able to support you on your journey along the way.”
“I found a group of women my same age on Facebook who have also had breast cancer. They have been an incredible support and understand exactly how I am feeling.”
4. Be Mindful of Your Body and Check, Check, Check
“Throughout my cancer journey, I met many people who were my age (and even younger) battling breast cancer. It happens, even if I wish it didn’t. Most importantly, who All I can say is, being aware of your body and any changes. Check your breasts regularly and know what they look and feel like at different stages of your menstrual cycle.”