Friday, October 18, 2013


Next, this is Marisa's story.  Please see her blog to read more about her story:

Age and Diagnosis

I was 27 when I was diagnosed with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma.

I have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer. I have done the genetic testing but won't get the results for another month or two.

Who caught it?

I did. I have 2 year old daughter who I breast fed till she was almost 16months. When I stopped breast feeding I noticed a mass in my left breast and thought it was just a build up of milk. By the time I took her for her 18month checkup the lump was still there and I could even see it. I asked the doctor to have a look at it and he didn't make a big deal about it but gave me a referral for an ultrasound and told me to check it out. I was still convinced it was just a result of breast feeding. My daughter sat on my lap while the ultrasound was being done and they found three lumps and also some swollen lymph nodes. The next day I had a mammogram and biopsy and the day after that it was confirmed that I had cancer.

What were the signs?
Other than feeling the lump, there weren't any signs. Three years earlier I had found a pea sized lump in my breast and had an ultrasound but was told it was nothing. I now know it was in the exact same place as my cancer but can't be sure they were related.

Did your doctors listen to you?Yes. He didn't make a big deal about it, in fact I almost didn't have the ultrasound because I had to keep rescheduling it, but he told me to have an ultrasound to check it out.

What would you say to a young woman who thinks she might have something wrong? 
Since being diagnosed I have taken my sister for a breast ultrasound (which luckily turned out to be nothing) and have been told by friends that their family members have been to the doctors to check out lumps that they were too scared to bring up before. My advice to anyone who has any health concerns, whatever they may be, is to bring it up with a doctor. There is no harm in seeing a doctor if there is nothing wrong, but there can be a lot of harm in ignoring it.
Everyone from the obstetrician to the ultrasound technicians told me I looked too young to have breast cancer. We then did IVF to harvest my eggs before starting chemo, and I every time I had to tell a new nurse or doctor why we were doing IVF I got the same response.

I even wrote a blog post about it:
I'm really starting to get sick of hearing this. I guess I understand people thinking this, but i still get surprised when someone actually says it, especially health professionals like doctors, nurses, and even sonographers. And what am I supposed to respond with? 'Yes I am too young to have breast cancer', 'Actually I must be older than you think', 'cancer doesn't discriminate'? Surely these people have some sense to know that telling me this is not a compliment, nor is it helpful. It certainly doesn't make me feel any better, and it just reminds me of how shit this whole situation is. At first I didn't mind too much. I guess it was a little comforting knowing that other people were as shocked as I was about my cancer, but I'm over it now. It's just the way things are. Every time I have to explain my situation to a new person, I don't need to be reminded of how ridiculous this all is. I was almost going to say 'how unfair' this is, but I stopped myself. As an adult I have learnt that there are few things 'fair' in life. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad. Incredibly strong and wonderful people can be taken from us by cancer, among many other things, and 'fairness' just doesn't come into it.

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