First a few words about me; I am Andrea, 40 years old and I live in Romania. I work at an advertising company and I have a normal, balanced lifestyle. When I was 37 years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My life has changed suddenly. I have a beautiful 8 year old daughter and she is the apple of my eye. She kept me strong through the entire struggle.
How did you discover about your illness?
I felt a lump on my right breast and went straight to a doctor. She made an ultrasound examination and was already 97% sure that I had cancer. I didn’t want to believe what she said and this is why I hoped until the last minute that it wouldn’t be cancer, until I got the pathology results. I want to mention that I made yearly an ultrasound just to check that everything is all right but unfortunately I skipped one year because of some personal problems. It was the biggest mistake I have ever done!
How did you feel when you were informed about your condition?
As I mentioned above I didn’t want to accept the situation and when my doctor told me that she is quite sure that I have cancer everything became blurry in front of me and I stopped hearing her voice. I already imagined that I am dead and my daughter will grew up without me. I struggled not to faint.
After three weeks the lab results came and then it was clear that I had breast cancer grade 2.
Did you find out early enough?
Yes, thank God! I went to a well known oncologist in our town with my lab results and he told me that I needed as quickly as possible chemo therapy and after the lump will shrink, a surgery to remove the cancerous cells. I got my first chemo on the 6th December 2012, I was crying because I was afraid, I felt alone and hopeless. The nurses had to calm me down with some pills, because I simply couldn’t help myself to stop crying.
Was there a person you felt close to during the treatment?
My family, especially my daughter and husband. They stood by my side and helped me a lot. My mother in law was an important person that helped me very much; she survived breast cancer and knew all the treatment steps.
How did this affect your life with your child?
I tried to be present in every situation that occurred in the period of my treatment related to her and my family, but there were days when I felt very ill and 3-4 days after my chemotherapy I was so week that I could not get up from bed. She did not understand what was happening to me, why I was crying so much, why I had lost my hair. She was too small to understand the situation. I tried several times to tell her that I don’t have the energy to play with her whenever she wants, because I don’t feel good. She could not understand why. Now she is 8 years old, and one day, I asked her if she remembers when I was bold and ill, and her answer was, no. I don’t think that my life or my relationship with my daughter got affected because of my illness, I think it got much stronger.
Was the treatment difficult?
Yes, it was extremely hard. I stayed every three weeks 2 hours long with a needle in my hand and got very toxic substances that affected my skin, stomach, bones and so on. At each chemo I felt worse and worse. After six times of chemo, my doctor told me that it is surgery time, because the lump had shrinked very much. A part of my breast, together with the lump was cut out and after three weeks I got the pathology result, that cancer had not affected my glands underneath my arm. That was great news for me. I didn’t know what will come; I just knew that cancer did not spread all over my body. My doctor informed me that he has to put me to the strongest radiotherapy sections, that will affect my bones, teeth, nails and so on and the remaining breast tissues will be hard as stone after this treatment. The other choice was to make a mastectomy and some hormone pill and injection treatment. This is why I chose mastectomy and went for my second surgery.
How did your friends and family react to your condition?
My husband cried with me and did not want to accept my illness. His mother, as I already mentioned, had breast cancer and he knew how awful the treatment for her was.
My mother and father were very affected and thought that they will lose their only daughter. They helped me a lot after they digested the shocking information that they received from me.
My friends couldn’t believe it, for each of them the information was a big shock, but they all stood by my side and visited me several times and gave me strength.
Has your illness affected the relationship of the members of your family?
The relationship between me and my husband got stronger and same happened with my friends and family too.
Is it something you talk about when you meet new people? Are there people who act differently after hearing about this experience you had?
No, I usually talk about my experience when I know a person better, but it can happen that I reveal my story on a first conversation. It depends on a situation. Some people cannot believe it, women are sorry for me and usually tell me that they never made in their life a breast ecography or mammography, some of them are afraid that it can happen to themselves too.
Has this experience changed you as a person?
I have to think that it did. Cancer definitely changed my life. I became more sensible, thoughtful what life concerns. I accept that each day is a gift and we have to treasure our health the most!
What message would you send to a woman that is going through a similar experience?
Do not give up hope, be strong and fight until you beat cancer! It is possible!
Have you got any advice for them and their family?
For the person who suffers, eat healthy, drink lots and lots of water to eliminate all the toxins from the body, keep calm and believe in your recovery and never give up! For the family; support and help the person who suffers with all that she needs, talk with her and show as much love and support as possible. Simply be there for her!
I want to raise awareness with this interview and help with my story. Make breast examination at home and once in a year go to your doctor and make an appointment for an ultrasound or a mammography, it can save your life!
I would like to thank Andrea for sharing her story with us and wish her the best for her and her family. I hope we all learn from her experience and not neglect our necessary examinations.