Early Diagnosis of Breast Cancer

When Charlotte Young Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer, She Was Determined Not To Let The Bad News Get The Better Of Her

This time two years ago, my life changed forever. It all started in September 2014, when I climbed into bed next to my husband Paul and examined my breasts like I did regularly. As I did, I found a pea-sized lump in my right breast. I went to see my doctor who referred me to a specialist. I had a biopsy and, when I returned for my results, Paul and I were told that I had breast cancer. It was as simple as that.

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Family focus

I had known there was a history of the disease in my family, but I’d never thought I would get it, especially at the age of 28. The news had barely sunk in before I was whisked off for a mammogram – my life had been turned upside down and I wasn’t sure how I would cope. Afterwards, Paul had to tell my mom and dad the news because I was so upset. Paul and I really wanted children and I was relieved to discover I could have ICSI [where a single sperm is injected into an egg and the embryo is stored] before I started chemotherapy.

Then two weeks later, I got some more bad news – my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I couldn’t believe it. Over the years I’d been a typical teenager, wanting to spend time with my friends rather than my parents. But with both of us battling cancer, my mom and I grew closer than we’d ever been. My sister Lucy and I kept my mom in high spirits until her surgery – a full hysterectomy. Luckily, it was successful. While my mom recovered, I started ICSI and injected myself with hormones for 10 days. The process produced six successful embryos that were then frozen. Days later, I started chemo and it made me really sick. I was also told I’d lose my long hair, so I got it cut into a pixie crop.

Soon though, it all fell out, as well as my eyelashes and eyebrows. Yet Paul still said I looked beautiful. During treatment, I saw as much of my mom and Lucy as I could – the last few months had made me realise how important family was. Because I had an increased chance of having a faulty gene, I decided to opt for a double mastectomy and reconstruction. But before I went under the knife, I felt I needed to do something special. I really didn’t want to sit at home feeling sad – instead, I wanted to do something to celebrate.

So I came up with the idea of throwing a ‘Goodbye Boobs’ party. On the day, friends helped us decorate the whole house with pink balloons and bra bunting. We ate a boobshaped cake and partied into the early hours. It was a fantastic night. Two weeks later, I went into hospital and had a double mastectomy, followed by reconstruction. When I came round I was glad it was over. It was strange having new breasts, but they filled me with hope.

New life ahead

With mom and I both clear of cancer, we celebrated with a big family holiday. All through our difficult time, mom had remained so cheery and it was exactly what I had needed to keep me going. I think that we helped each other get to where we are today. Now I raise awareness about the disease, and have recently worked with a great charity organisation that gives support to those living with breast cancer. My advice to anyone battling the disease would be to try stay positive, surround yourself with loved ones, and to always try and make the most out of a bad situation. So, goodbye old boobs, hello new life!

 

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