The fight against breast cancer
Dianne’s Journey with Breast Cancer
‘A date that I will never forget, I was 19 weeks pregnant on my second child.’
Dianne was 38 when she was diagnosed with 2 HER2+ breast cancer on 9th February 2017, she was also 19 weeks pregnant.
“My husband and I were absolutely numb when our consultant confirmed that I had stage 2 HER2+ breast cancer. With any cancer diagnosis I'm sure the shock and fear are indescribable, however to be told this while you are just half way through a pregnancy just brought a myriad of other concerns and fears.”
At 24 weeks Dianne had a lumpectomy followed by re-excision surgery four weeks later. After the birth of her son she had six months of chemotherapy followed by 20 sessions of radiotherapy.
Even though Dianne had the loving support of family and friends, going through breast cancer can still be a lonely journey. Fortunately, Dianne was able to turn to the confidential Cancer Nurseline for help.
“I called the Nurseline a couple of times during my chemo for advice. I found the support and advice invaluable as the Cancer Nurses all understood exactly what I was going through. All my concerns, worries and fears were so familiar to them. Family and friends were fantastic too, but they just didn't have the on hand knowledge of what I had to endure on a day to day basis during treatment. I felt so at ease after calling them and never felt I was bothering them or a burden in anyway. It's just a fantastic service, totally anonymous and I couldn’t recommend it enough to anyone who has been diagnosed or going through treatment.”
Dianne is one of thousands of breast cancer patients who was able to use the Cancer Nurseline in a time of need and that is because of incredible supporters who raise vital funds through Cups Against Breast Cancer.
Signs & Symptoms - Know your normal
It is so important that every woman is breast aware. This means knowing what is normal for you so that if any unusual change occurs, you will recognise it.
Signs & symptoms of breast cancer
- A change in the skin such as puckering or dimpling (like orange peel) or redness;
- A change in the direction or shape of your nipple, especially if it sinks into your breast or becomes irregular in shape;
- An unusual discharge (liquid) from one or both of your nipples;
- A change on or around the nipple such as a rash or flaky or crusted skin;
- Swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone;
- A lump or thickening in your breast;
- Constant pain in one part of your breast or armpit;
How to reduce your risk of breast cancer
The Irish Cancer Society also carries out research in the area of cancer prevention. Our Cancer Prevention team work tirelessly to spread awareness and promote good habits within our communities so that we can reduce our risk of developing cancer. Our Cancer Prevention team, in collaboration with the European Code Against Cancer, have created an infographic which consists of twelve recommendations that most people can follow without any special skills or advice.
The more recommendations people follow, the lower their risk of cancer will be.
Ways to reduce your risk
Be a healthy weight
Being overweight after the menopause can increase your risk of breast cancer. This is because fat cells in your body increase hormones and high levels of certain hormones in turn increase your cancer risk. Try to be a healthy weight by eating a healthy diet and being active.
Women who are physically active have a lower risk of breast cancer than less active women. Try to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on five or more days a week. Moderate physical activity is any movement that makes you feel warm and breathe a little deeper.
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of breast cancer. The more you cut down on alcohol, the more you can reduce your risk. Limit your risk by drinking no more than one standard drink a day.
Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding helps to protect mothers from breast cancer. It is best to breastfeed your baby for the first six months if possible. The longer a woman breastfeeds her baby, the more she reduces her breast cancer risk.
Some recent research suggests that smoking may increase the risk of breast cancer. It is important to note that smoking causes 30 per cent of all cancers. For advice, support and information contact the HSE Quit Team on Freephone 1800 201 203, Freetext QUIT TO 50100
Attend BreastCheck, the national breast cancer screening service when called. Currently, all women aged 50 to 66 are invited to have a free mammogram every 2 years. By 2021 this service will be extended to include women up to the age of 69. For more information see www.breastcheck.ie.
To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of breast cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide. For information on Daffodil Centre locations and opening times email email@example.com.