Donna's Breast Cancer Story Part 1

Cancer Awareness Month
October is cancer awareness month in Ireland, so I thought what better time to begin sharing my experiences of breast cancer with the world.  

Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to post blogs, statuses and videos to share MY experiences of cancer with you.  I am completely new to all this blog stuff, so please bear with me.  Also, if anyone has any suggestions or advice for me on doing all this, please let me know.  I will be very grateful. 

Before I get into all that, I would ask that anyone of any age who is reading this, either before or after reading it, please find a quiet private area and take 2 minutes to just check yourself around the chest and underarm area.  I say 'anyone' because men can develop breast cancer too, so check em lads.  And I say 'any age' because cancer does not just develop in older men and women.  It hits young people too.  I was just 29 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so making young men and women aware of this is something I want to do.  There are plenty of videos on YouTube on how to do this properly and it is recommended to check every month especially for women.

So, just find those 2 minutes to have a check and if there is something that feels a bit weird or different, just go get it looked at by your doctor.  Early detection is extremely vital with all cancers.  It's what makes ALL the difference in your treatment should you find yourself in that situation.

Also, if you suspect that there could be a cancer gene in your family, get a blood test done to find out.  If something does 'show up' in your genes, you will hopefully get monitored by your doctors in the best way possible.  That's how it happened for me.  And that's why I'm alive today.

Why I want to share my stories!
  • To get EVERYONE checking for early detection signs of breast cancer 
  • To tell my experience and hopefully help, even in a small way, others affected by breast cancer whether it's you or someone else in your life
  • To make a connection with people in the online world and spread a bit of positivity for the shitty times in life
It wasn't always easy and sometimes I do still have bad moments but every day I feel stronger physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I will do my best to express how I do in my stories.  I really do hope I succeed in my little mission and I really hope you help me by following me on social media and my website(details at the bottom!), and by sharing my stories.  BIG LOVE to you all and THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
In A Nutshell....I'll try keep the nutshell small...

I found out when I was 21 that I was a BRCA 2 carrier following a blood test.  This basically meant that I had a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared with the general public.  After that, I was a regular at the Breast Clinic in St. James' Hospital, Dublin.  Every few months, I would have the pleasure of meeting the beautiful people up there as I got MRI scans, mammograms, breast/ovary checks and blood tests done.  And let me tell ya, they really are beautiful human beings; from the doctors, nurses and all the staff to the brave men and women who I met in the waiting area.  They make my visits to the hospital a little bit special every time.

Hospital days became very normal to me after a while until, at the age of 29, the doctor told me that something 'lit up' on my MRI scan.  A biopsy was done a few days later on my left breast and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Because of the way the BRCA gene mutates, it was a very aggressive type of cancer which would spread fast, so I was booked in pretty much straight away for a bi-lateral mastectomy with reconstruction.  This meant I was losing my boobs and implants were gonna be put in their place.  Also, because of the BRCA bitch, my nipples had to go too.

So now I have boobs like Barbie...except Barbie doesn't have scars!  But I still like to refer to them as 'my Barbie boobs'.  I'll talk more in depth about that whole process in another blog because it took about a year and a half to get what I have today.

So, the date was set.  March 2nd 2016.  That year, March 3rd...(the day after my scheduled mastectomy)...was my 30th birthday AND my daughter's confirmation.  I was a bit fecked about that but this operation literally meant saving my life.  The parties had to be put on hold temporarily.  This quickly became ok with me as the day came closer.  I began to relax and accept everything, and found myself being grateful for a LOT of things in my life.  I did feel like something special was happening inside myself at a deeper level.  It was really cool and one of the BEST life-changing happenings.

After my operation, I healed extremely well...and fast.  I will always put this quick healing down to two things.  One; the most beautiful love and support that I received from all of my friends, family, my boyfriend, my neighbours, my hometown of Newbridge and even people online I have never met.  To ALL, I will be forever, totally grateful.  And Two; my state of mind at the time.  I invited each and every bit of that love and all the well wishes into my being.  It's like I drank up all the positive vibes and energy from every single person.  These two things combined, without a doubt, invigorated my spirit with the best kind of healing energies.

This energy that I began to really feel inside resurfaced again two and a half weeks later, on March 25th.  Another day I will NEVER forget.  It was Good Friday in Ireland that day.  I woke up that morning to the sound of my brother screaming, 'Get up and get the fuck out!!!  The house is on fire!!!'.  

That morning, me and my boyfriend were sleeping in my bedroom downstairs.  My brother was upstairs in his room, and my sister and her boyfriend were sleeping in her room, upstairs also.  Anytime I think back on that day, I am so THANKFUL that our parents and kids were away the night before (my daughter and my nephew lived there too....was a busy house!).  But because of the miracle of my brother being awake that morning, we all made it out...a matter of minutes would have turned it into a different story.  But there was definitely something special happening again that day.  I'll go more into that story in another blog on how I managed that experience.

But yep...that day we lost our family home.  Despite all the efforts of the wonderful firemen, the house, because of an electrical fault, burned to the ground.  AND again, I believe our strength and energy came from all the love and support people gave us, and our willingness to receive it and accept what was going on.  What a JOY for my being inside to experience even though on the outside, my life seemed like it was falling to bits!  Very weird...I know!  But I will try to explain better in the blog on that experience.  Don't wanna waffle on too much!

So, with the kindness of my boyfriend's parents, I moved into his house and prepared myself for my next BIG oophorectomy.  On April 18th 2016, I lost my ovaries and fallopian tubes.  To me, this was a bigger operation to face.  The thoughts of hitting menopause with a bang, at the fresh age of 30, frightened the shite out of me.  You always hear such horrible stories about menopause.  Completely sane women going crazy, bones drying up and losing interest in sex and affection.  I was scared.  

And to top it off....AGAIN, because of the behaviour of the BRCA bitch, I can't take any Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).  No help to relieve the symptoms of 'the change'.  I didn't feel ready to battle through menopause with just calcium and vitamin D.  I was really scared!  Again, I'll talk about that experience in another blog, if you're interested of course.  But I will tell ya, I did experience ALL of the above symptoms.....and more!!!

But here I am to tell my tale, and I have the opportunity to share my stories with the world.  So why not?  The purpose of THIS blog is to give you an idea of what I went through on my journey with breast cancer and to show that it can happen at any age.  Men, women, young and old, get checking!!  And not only your chest...keep an eye on all your bits and pieces.  Not to scare you, or worry you....just to keep you aware of your temple and how it feels and changes.  Only YOU know yourself!  

I also want to attempt to put a positive spin on this shit disease we call cancer, because I believe everything is a lesson and everything happens for a reason.  And, in MY experience it all had a major POSITIVE side.  I just had to be willing to accept everything and be thankful for every moment of my life.  It wasn't always an easy road, I've cracked up a good few times.  Even now, I still have my bad moments, but it's how I perceive everything and accept everything that is getting me through.  

So, I would like to put myself and my story out there and maybe help someone out too.  I'm not claiming to be an expert, and I've had an easier road than others, but I'm still learning everyday.  I can share my honest and true feelings and maybe give people a little light to look towards.

Yes, there will always be shit days and then even shittier days but seriously if you persevere, try to put a positive to every negative, be open to every encounter, try to accept every experience, be grateful for every moment...magical things can happen!  Also, NEVER judge anything or anyone, this includes yourself!  Me...personally...have no doubt about it.  My breast cancer journey is not over yet, and I have one more operation to face and checkups for a while, but I'm the healthiest and happiest I've ever been.  I also don't have such a strong fear of death anymore, which is BRILLIANT for me.

Another major part of my story is that the breast cancer was found early.  It could have been a LOT worse.  I'm blessed and so are you.  Believe it!  

With all that waffle, I hope I reach at least one person.  I love you all, and remember things always have the potential to be's up to YOU to realise it.  We ALL have the potential. 

If you are in any way interested to hear more, follow me on Instagram, Facebook or my website.  Feel free to contact me with any comments or questions and I will do my best to respond in the right way.  Also....advice on blogging would be appreciated.

Donna x

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