Today is a very significant day. Today is the 3rd March! Many of you won’t know the importance of this day but Dawn, our Boobless Bride, will explain all.
Hey girlfriends. Can you believe we are in March already?! Spring is fast approaching and March holds a very important date for me and thousands of other women across the globe. So, I hope you don’t mind… but I am going to throw a curve ball this time and not actually talk about anything Bridal and I will explain why.
Every bride is unique; her style, shape, height, complexion and preferences differ – resulting in every wedding being an exclusive event. But there is one thing all us brides have in common. We are women. Very busy women. We are Daughters, Girlfriends, Mums, Employees, Managers, Entrepreneurs, Friends, Trouble shooters, Role Models, Cleaners, Chauffeurs, Chefs, DIY experts, First Aiders, Wedding Planners… the list goes on. Our lives are crazy busy and we are often so good at looking after EVERYONE else around us that we neglect ourselves. That is why March is so important.
3rd March is the Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) Awareness Day. Prior to November 2014 I had never heard of Triple Negative Breast Cancer. In fact I thought breast cancer was breast cancer… one potentially deadly disease that has a very good prognosis these days. My ignorance was short lived (probably not the best choice of words) – because I was told that not only did I have breast cancer – I had Triple Negative – arguably the worst type of breast cancer due to the nature of how it grows. Would you believe it…There are 8 different types of breast cancer?! And each cancer has sub groups so there are significantly more than 8 in reality. Each cancer has a specific course of treatment tailored to each patients’ symptoms, scan results and needs.
So what is TNBC?! Don’t worry – I won’t go too scientific as I am certainly not a medic, but there are 3 receptors in a cancer cell; Oestrogen, Progesterone or Her2 and the presence or absence of one or more determine the cancer type.
As explained by Cancer Research UK…Receptors are proteins that some cancer cells have. When specific substances in your body attach to specific receptors, they trigger a reaction in the cell. When they are triggered, oestrogen receptors, progesterone receptors and Her2 receptors can tell breast cancer cells to grow.
Oestrogen attaches to oestrogen receptors. Progesterone attaches to progesterone receptors. And Her2 attaches to Her2 receptors. Some breast cancers have one or more of these receptors. Triple negative breast cancers don’t have any of them.
Because there are no receptors this cancer grows incredibly quickly and aggressively, it is more common in younger women and is often a sign that you are carrying the BRCA1 (Breast cancer gene). As part of the process, I completed a medical family tree – no one in the family had had breast cancer so the oncology team were happy that it was unlikely to be genetic as my mum and nan had not had it or my fathers sisters. However, I read a lot about TNBC and felt with two daughters it was important to officially rule this out. Thank god I did as I was told (after several months) that I have the breast cancer gene. How is this possible? No women in my family have ever had breast cancer?! Well the sneaky git travelled down my dad’s side of the family so I was the first female to be affected. The genetics testing team were as shocked as I was. So frustrating as if I had known I had the gene I would have been screened regularly and would never have found myself in this position. But at least now my girls will be tested and if they have the gene they will be screened closely and given the chance to have elected mastectomies and reconstruction. The BRCA1 gene also increases the chance of ovarian cancer so I have had a hysterectomy and again my girls will need to decide if they have an elected hysterectomy in their 30’s. It makes me wonder how many other women are carrying this serial killer around with them – completely unaware that he may strike at any time and change your life forever.
I must point out that breast cancer in someone my age (33) is very rare – but not unknown. Because of this it is easily misdiagnosed. You know your body… so if you find ANYTHING that you feel is not ‘right’ or has changed. Get it checked out. I genuinely knew from the moment I found the lump that something was seriously wrong. It took 3 trips to the GP before I received an appointment to see a specialist as experience said under 40s don’t have breast cancer and with no breast cancer in the family it would almost always be a cyst. But my case is not exclusive so I beg you ladies…push to see a breast specialist.
So…why am I banging on about cancer…again…how boring I hear you cry. Well I found the lump in September 2014 the size of a pea. By the time I was diagnosed 8 weeks later it was 12cms and had spread to my lymphatic system – meaning my treatment needed to be quick and extensive. I acted the second I found the lump – and it was still touch and go. A tumour over 5cm in size generally means the cancer will have spread. I was extremely lucky that mine hadn’t and with only a 6% 5 year survival rate for my cancer and number of lymph nodes affected. I am definitely not out of the woods – but imagine if I had delayed seeking medical advice. I would almost certainly not be sat here in my pjs writing a blog to you lovely people or planning a beautiful wedding with my best friend.
So on the 3rd March it is National Triple Negative Breast Cancer Awareness Day. And I beg you to;
I have been working with Breast Cancer Care – who have been my rock throughout my diagnosis and treatment and they have sent me details to help you know what to do.
• There’s no right or wrong way to check your breasts. Whatever your age, it’s really important to get to know your breasts and what’s normal for you.
• Breast cancer’s not just a lump, try to be aware of any changes that are different for you – things like puckering or dimpling, redness or a rash, your nipple becoming inverted (pulled in) or changing its position or shape, a change in the size or shape of your breasts or any discharge from your nipples.
• Remember to check all parts of your breast, including your armpits and up to your collarbone.
• Knowing what warning signs to look for can lead to earlier detection of breast cancer. This can be crucial in providing more effective treatment and, ultimately, saving lives.
• If you notice any unusual breast changes go and see your GP as soon as possible.
• Not all changes will be breast cancer, but if you are diagnosed your specialist team will then discuss your treatment options with you.
• Call Breast Cancer Care’s nurses free on 0808 800 6000 or visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk for more information.
We aren’t just brides, we are women and we need to look after ourselves.