Chandni's Breast Cancer Story

I’ve been busy this year....
My name is Chandni, 32 years young and trained as a Beautician. 
 
This year I completed 6 rounds of intense chemo, 2 operations and 20 rounds of radiotherapy. 
I made it, I made it to the finish line! I fought my fight and survived, all because of a random self-check at home. I don't have big boobs, a lot of people who are close to me know that, but that doesn’t mean this wasn’t going to come and get me. Size does not matter....Age does not matter...the colour of our skin does not matter! I was 31, a non-smoker, healthy, happy and got diagnosed at the fittest point in my life. I’d never felt better but Cancer still came knocking at my door! 

I found my lump on my right breast at 10.30pm on 31st December 2017 whilst watching the ever so wonderful Graham Norton, I was laughing 5 minutes before my life flipped. It was 4 days after returning from a lovely family holiday in Dubai. At that split-second I knew my life was about to turn upside-down. I tried not to be negative at that point but how could I just let it go?
I woke up on New Year’s Day of this year thinking I’d just had the worst nightmare so I quickly went to have another feel and realised that my worst nightmare wasn’t a nightmare! I called 111 and they advised me to go straight to a GP. As it was New Year’s Day, not much would be open apart from the walk-in clinic or hospitals so I went first thing to the local walk-in clinic and from there I was referred for further tests at the Hospital. I was poked, prodded and squeezed only to be diagnosed, at 31 years of age, on January 23rd 2018 with grade 3 invasive breast cancer (with no special type). My initial reaction was nothing, then buckets of tears, then breaking the news to my parents who were thousands of miles away on holiday in India and then gearing myself for the biggest fight of my life. I needed to be strong, to fight and to take things one day at a time from here on. I had too much to lose, my 2 beautiful kids, my beloved husband and my amazing family.
I had further tests to find out the reason I got this but everything came out negative. this included an a sentinel lymph node biopsy where they removed 3 lymph nodes and genetic testing to see if I had the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. 
I began chemo in February. They were 3 weeks apart for 6 sessions. I cold-capped on my head because I wanted to keep as much hair as I could to retain as much normality as I could get in my life. Despite cold-caps I still lost about 70% of my hair. I lost my eyebrows and eyelashes entirely. The minute you start losing your hair people treat you differently, you start looking ill. I didn’t try to keep my hair for my vanity but I kept it for my sanity and well-being and lastly for my kids to still see me as their Mummy. To this day my kids are blissfully unaware of what their Mummy actually went through, firstly because they’re too young to understand and secondly they have a right to be kids, they don’t need the burden on their shoulders of knowing what was happening. When my kids are old enough they will surely be made aware.
Chemo was tough, not always but it was tough. It’s a poison that runs through every cell, good and bad, in your body. It takes a major toll on your joints, muscles, tastebuds, your hair, your skin, your nails, your teeth, your memory, your energy levels and oh not forgetting to mention your menstrual cycle, this shit puts you into medical menopause! Jeez, if only you knew about the hot flushes I’ve been going through. Which makes me even more thankful that I had my babies when I did. God knows if I’ll ever be back to normal again. Treatment makes you weak in ways you cannot imagine. Walking for 5 minutes would feel like climbing a mountain. Did you know that if you don’t keep your nails covered with nail polish they could potentially fall off? Bizarre right, but chemo gets into every nook & cranny. Luckily my profession came in handy! I managed to save my nails...just about. 
I got away with not telling anyone about my diagnosis for a long time, basically until June of this year when my chemo ended. I did the right thing. I know I did. Why did I keep it quiet I hear you say? Mainly because I wanted to be treated normally. That’s it, that’s my selfish reason. I didn’t want a pity party, only I was allowed to do that. I chose to feel normal for as long as I could and you know what? It helped! It kept me in a good emotional state. 
I’m sharing my story with you all because I want to raise awareness, to be made aware that this can happen to anyone. I want to end the stigma that cancer carries, we need to support one another. There’s no one reason why this happens, it just happens. Even in those that are healthiest. 
I was 31, fit, ate extremely healthy, had a drink maybe once every two months & a non-smoker. It doesn’t just happen to the woman (or man) over 40! 1 in every 7 women/men are diagnosed every single day. Although, I do believe there one less listed symptom and that’s STRESS! Over the last 2 years I went through a lot and I think that just built and built over time and my body just decided to pop!
So please ladies and gentlemen check your boobs. If your not sure about something even if you have none of the listed symptoms, which I didn’t even have GO AND SEE YOUR GP! I was so lucky that I found mine and I saved my life. You can complain about the NHS all you like but when it’s something like this they’re there every step of the way. At that point I knew I was in the best possible care and still am.
What have I learned from this? I’ve learned that I’m stronger than I thought. I’ve learned to take things a bit easier, to take things one day at a time, not to stress about silly little things and to appreciate my body and this ONE SINGLE LIFE I’ve been given. It’s taught me to be thankful for everything and everyone in my life. 
This fight couldn’t have been fought without the support and constant love from my beloved family, above all my magnificent Husband & Mummy! 
Instagram: @chandnigohil

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