In the summer of 2020, my husband noticed a ball above my breast - so small that I did not pay attention. Some time passed, and my husband reminded me to go to the doctor. The thought of an ultrasound scan was spinning in my head for months, but I put it off and put it off. And then one morning at the end of November, I woke up with the thought that it was worth finally being examined.
The ultrasound doctor was looking seriously at the images of my breasts. Her silence worried me, I began to worry. In the end, she looked at me anxiously and said that it was probably just fibroadenoma in my breast, but another specialist's consultation was needed. And handed me a business card. I did not know at all what it was about, so I left the office and started looking for information on the Internet about what this fibroadenoma is and, most importantly, which doctor to go to for a consultation. Then there was the first shock and panic when I realized that I needed to go to the oncological center.
The next day I already visited a mammologist. I smiled, trying to calm myself. The specialist was surprisingly welcoming, positive and was able to easily neutralize my fear. After examining me and my extracts from the ultrasound, he assured that it was a benign fibroadenoma and there was nothing to be afraid of. He advised to “treat” it with phytopreparations and ointments for 2 months, and then go through the examination again to see if it had decreased. If not, you will have to remove it. But I didn’t want to wait 2 months, not understanding whether this is really a benign formation. Therefore, I insisted on a biopsy, which the doctor, by the way, refused to do until recently. It was a fine-needle biopsy under ultrasound control - and after 20 minutes I received the result of a cytological study, where it was handwritten "Mastopathy C50". Breast cancer "hides" behind this code ... And then everything was like a fog. After 3 days, I underwent a trepanobiopsy to establish a precise diagnosis.
The hardest part was waiting for the results. For 7 days my husband and I studied everything about breast cancer, its types and methods of treatment according to international protocols. And yet we hoped for a mistake. When the results came, there was no longer any doubt. I am 30 years old - and I have breast cancer.
I was completely confused and scared. Fear is the first emotion that captures you when you hear a cancer diagnosis. Most of all I was afraid to tell my parents, knowing what a blow it would be for them. Therefore, I decided to act so that at the moment when I have to tell the truth, to assure that everything is not so scary. I pulled myself together and began to move forward step by step. I underwent additional examinations in Lviv (CT, MRI, scintigraphy, ultrasound of internal organs). Fortunately, everything was clean, the disease was diagnosed on time. All this time my husband was there. I can't imagine how I would have gone through this without him. He negotiated with doctors, bought what was needed, told me what to do and how to do it when I started to get confused in information.
Then there was a difficult stage of choosing a place where to receive treatment. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was to go abroad.
Since the tumor was 1 cm in size, it was hormone-dependent and Her-negative, the first and main stage of treatment should be surgery. My main advisor was my friend, who recently also completed breast cancer treatment and we had very similar diagnoses. She underwent surgery in Germany and underwent chemotherapy at LISOD. It was she who told me about Andrii Zhygulin (whom I met at the consultation and about whom I heard excellent reviews from many women) as the best surgeon in Ukraine. She said that he would carry out the surgery just as well as in Germany, and I can safely confide in him. That's how I got to LISOD: I didn't know anything about the hospital, but I was traveling for the sake of a doctor.
6 hours on the way, I still doubted, but after the first consultation I realized that I wanted Andrii Valentynovich to operate on me.
The surgery was successful and the appearance of my breasts is much better than before the intervention. I underwent rehabilitation (since the surgery was volumetric - bilateral mastectomy with one-stage restoration with implants) and recovered fairly quickly. Postoperative histology showed that, unfortunately, one lymph node was affected. Taking into account my young age, the Ki67 index and the lymph node, it was decided on further preventive treatment - chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
How afraid I was of chemotherapy! More than 7 hours of surgery, more than everything. I was the proud owner of very long and thick hair. They were my pride and collected a lot of compliments. But I was more worried about the children. I could not imagine what a blow to them would be "bald mom". Because since childhood my son was simply in love with my hair!
There were different ideas: not to tell the children, to hide everything, to wear a wig and the like. But my husband and I came to the conclusion that this is unrealistic. Therefore, one day my son and I (my daughter was still little, so she would not understand) went to a cafe after school - for ice cream and a conversation. I chose the words for a long time, but I was able to explain both about the disease and about hair loss. He cried and asked: “What kind of treatment is this that will ruin your hair? Is there really no other? " I understand that it was a difficult but correct decision. Over time, he resigned himself and even sometimes laughed at my headdresses. Children for me are the greatest incentive to live and fight. They helped me not to lose heart and courageously go through all the treatment. I am eternally grateful to my family for their support and love.
When chemotherapy started, I had already found out everything about LISOD, met many women who were being treated there. I knew that they adhere to all international protocols, use only high-quality drugs (and store them properly) and I can trust the doctors. I also received a second opinion from two different specialists abroad, and they fully confirmed the protocol for my further treatment offered by the LISOD hospital. Therefore, I was even more convinced that I chose the right place and can be calm. Olga Polyakh, a wonderful chemotherapist, made every effort to make sure that I went through this difficult stage, supported and encouraged me, and helped me cope with side effects.
We came from Lviv, first every two weeks, and then weekly for 5 months. Everything always went well and smoothly. I liked the attitude towards patients. When something worried me in my breast, I boldly came to Andrii Valentinovich for an examination or for advice, and he always gave me time with a smile. Of course, there were minor misunderstandings in the hospital during such a long period, but they were all resolved. After the last chemotherapy, my doctors said goodbye to me like this: "We are waiting for a visit and for planned examinations, but never again as a patient!"
Now I am going through the last stage of treatment - radiation therapy in Germany. There were several reasons for this, one of them was the desire to change the environment and unwind a little, combining the necessary with the pleasant.
Has my life changed since the diagnosis? Yes. Here's what I wrote about it on social networks:
“I learned to live. 8 months, exactly eight months, since cancer became my story. A disease that was so distant and“ definitely not about me ”came into my life and totally changed it. And no matter how strange it sounds, it changed to the best.
Cancer taught me how to live. NOT to live life, not to exist, but to understand and feel it. Appreciate every day and minute, be grateful for everything that happens to me and around me. NOT to complain. Enjoy. Be in love. Be yourself and make your choice. Prioritize and see beyond the horizon.
And let someone say that I just comfort myself, I am looking for a positive in a story in which it seems to be absent. But no. I had enough time to consider the situation from all possible angles and draw conclusions. Valuable findings.
And yes, my life was divided into "before" and "after". And this "after" opened my eyes to the world. My world".
Now I try to lead a full, active lifestyle. Think less about the diagnosis, pay less attention to side effects. But to move more, play sports, travel, do my favorite job, share my story in order to help women who are in the same situation and enjoy every day.
I tried to maintain physical activity during chemotherapy, and now I continue. Jogging in the morning, yoga, dancing - what helps me to be cheerful and improve my health.
To everyone who has just learned about cancer diagnosis and is at the beginning of the journey, I want to say the main thing. Check everything that is assigned to you, always get a second or even a third opinion. Don't be afraid to ask doctors questions. Make a decision on treatment only when you are 100% sure that it is correct. Remember that there are international treatment protocols, where it is clearly written what and in which diagnosis should be done. Unfortunately, I have faced many sad cases when women are prescribed surgery without an elementary biopsy. When women are placed on the operating table, not knowing what kind of tumor it is and whether it is operable. Believe me, there are many such cases, and new ones appear every day. These are the realities in our state. Therefore, choose your doctor carefully.
I also want to urge all women not to delay the examinations. Hearing a diagnosis is not as scary as hearing it late. Even in my situation, when cancer was diagnosed at an early stage, I still lost time. If I went for an examination as soon as I noticed a tumor, and did not wait several months to decide, perhaps the cancer would not have time to damage my lymph node, and I would not have to undergo such a grueling treatment. Take care of yourself!
Based on materials from https://tsn.ua/