No two experiences are the same, but at Breast Cancer Ireland, Teresa Costello kindly shares her experience on the charity's blog to give a personal insight. She is a Patient Ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland and is involved in the all-important education and outreach programme they run.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 36 and my diagnosis was a total shock to me and of course my family and friends. I wasn’t breast aware and I didn’t check myself regularly (at all in fact), I found my lump by chance in the shower. Taking into consideration my age, family history, fitness and lifestyle my GP wasn’t overly concerned however he referred me to St James, where upon examination they found an additional 2 tumors.
It was a whirlwind and I embarked on a treatment plan which consisted of Chemotherapy, Surgery (Mastectomy and clearance of lymph nodes with immediate reconstruction) followed by additional reconstruction and Radiotherapy.
Having breast cancer was very traumatic not only for me but also for my son and other family members, but thankfully, I am now back to full health. My cancer was hormone driven and so I take a little tablet called Tamoxifen every day to help reduce my risk of a reoccurrence. Before breast cancer stormed into my life I am sorry to say I didn’t take ownership of my own breast health. I was wrongly under the impression that breast cancer only happened to ladies in their late 50’s and 60’s.
Being an Ambassador for Breast Cancer Ireland is an honour for me. Advances in research and new medication saved my life and continue to keep me cancer free. I’m actively involved in the Education and outreach programme provided by Breast Cancer Ireland working with women of all ages from TY students and staff to women’s groups advising them about good breast health and the importance of knowing how to do self breast examinations and the signs and symptoms to look out for “awarenesssaveslives”.