Location: New Zealand
Diagnosis: Breast Cancer (Stage 2)
Hi I'm Dani. I'm a 26-year-old graphic designer from New Zealand.
This is my story about how I found my cancer.
My breast cancer story started in August 2017 when I had an ultrasound after I told my doctor I had been having breast pain. All was fine, just as expected – dense breast tissue and some mastalgia, nothing to worry about. I never thought about it again.
In April 2018 I moved from the North Shore to the city into a gorgeous little flat with my boyfriend, Nick and because of this I changed doctors for convenience. My friend Alice recommended a local doctors surgery so I signed up there.
I had noticed my nipple was very dry, it had been for a few months. Last time I checked it out with the doctor she thought it was some contact dermatitis so I wasn't too worried, just wanted to sort it for aesthetic reasons. I went to see my new doctor on the 13th July 2018. I showed her my nipple and she decided to do a breast exam. She had seen the results of my ultrasound from last year on my records and wasn't too worried but as I was a new patient she wanted to be extra careful. She booked me in for an ultrasound on the 30th July - obviously not urgent.
She is a wonderful doctor, so kind and very thorough. I owe her, she saved my life.
I went home that day very scared. Even though she reassured me I really felt something was wrong. After a weekend of worrying, nail biting and crying, I booked another appointment with her to talk through my concerns and try and get an earlier time for the ultrasound, I wanted to I put my worries at ease. She phoned around and on her final call, she secured me an appointment for the next day, the 18th July. I was so grateful as was excited to put this silly worry to rest.
That next day my mum dropped me off at the breast clinic and she went to work. I walked in to the waiting room, it is a beautiful clinic, bowls of chocolates on the coffee tables, blush velvet booths, gold trimmings with navy and faun accents. I felt very at comfortable and calm. I was called in by the Radiologist assistant and asked to change into a gown and take a seat in the waiting room. This room was a miniature version of the reception waiting room. Next to me was a woman, probably early 40's, she also was in a gown. She was praying as her mother distracted her beautiful daughter with a colouring in book. I was called in next. As I lay there, tits out for the boys, I started to panic. I reached out for the assistants hand to hold. The radiologist was a kind man, he poured the gel onto my right breast and started the ultrasound. I noticed he started to look quite pale and he was quiet. The ultrasound went on for a long time, maybe 15-20 minutes, much longer than my last one. He stopped and looked at me and said, "Dani, I have found some lumps." He said he didn't know what they were and would like to do a Mammogram to investigate further. My heart stopped. I was rushed through a mammogram and a biopsy and told we would have the results in the next two days. They said it was most probably cancer but they can't be sure till they get the ultrasound back. I was so shocked, I cried so much, everyone cried so much. It was like someone was dangling my life in front me and I couldn't catch it.
The days that followed were hell. My whole life flashed before my eyes.
I knew I had cancer but how far along was I? Was I going to die? I even went to work to try keep my mind off it but nothing could distract me.
On the 20th July 2018 I was diagnosed with stage 2, multi-focal, ductal carcinoma. That day my life changed forever. I am now almost finished with chemotherapy and I have my surgery date set. I have not let this break me and I am excited for the future. I want to help others who are on this journey and give back to those that have helped me.
One piece of advice:
The one piece of advice I can give to anyone is if anything is bothering you just get it checked. Trust your instincts and advocate for your health. You know your body better than anyone else. I can also say that having cancer has changed me for the better, I don't even recognise who I was before. I am stronger and kinder to myself. Cancer can take your energy, your hair, the life you knew but you are stronger than you think and you can do this.
Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Brave Collective. While the information is considered to be true and correct at the date of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of the information.