Beth's Story

BREAST CANCER – Early Detection is the Key to Survival

In 1999, at 42 years of age, I was at the peak of my career, happily married and living life in the fast lane. Overnight, my life changed when I discovered a small hard lump, the size of a pound coin on my breast bone. The shock was huge, together with the fear that I would not survive. Then I was on a rollercoaster that started with an operation, a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.   By December, all the treatment was over and I was able to enjoy the festivities at millennium. I went back to work in January, after a great holiday, but I remember feeling as if someone had lifted me up and shaken me from head to foot.   It took quite a few months to get my confidence back, but I was grateful to get back to work and a ‘normal life’.    On a positive note, I really appreciated a lot of things in life that I had always taken for granted and that included jumping into the car and driving to work for my 8.30am morning meeting!

For the next 5 years I was on tamoxifen and I had an annual mammogram which I continued with until the 10th year when, in June 2009, having my annual check-up mammogram, I was advised that I had another breast cancer, known as a DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ).   This was diagnosed purely from the mammogram and was the very early stages of the new cancer.   So the timing and reading of the mammogram was paramount in the early detection and validation of the new breast cancer.

After discussion with my consultant, I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy and went off on a prearranged holiday for two weeks in South Carolina. In fact, we ended up on the same flight from Belfast, and onwards, as my consultant surgeon and his family!   At the end of July, I had the operation and, with no further treatment required, I was back at work within three weeks.    I will always continue my annual check-ups.   I do think that I had a Guardian Angel looking after me but, most of all, early detection is the key to survival.
 
Beth Robinson