“I’m sorry, but you have breast cancer.”

I’m so sorry Mrs James, but you have breast cancer …..

Never ever did I ever expect to hear those words being spoken to me. Let alone at the age of 40.

But here I was on 1st March 2019, sitting with my husband in the doctor’s office in the Breast Clinic at Royal Perth Hospital, experiencing this almost out of body experience. 

The moment I knew

Flash back to the week before, when I was doing a self-examination laying in bed just about to go to sleep. Wait. What is THAT? I think I knew at that point but was in disbelief. Lying in bed, I grabbed my phone and booked an appointment to see my GP. It is hard to explain, but I KNEW at that point that I had breast cancer. Not in a pessimistic way. But I just KNEW in the depth of my soul. It took me a while to go to sleep that night and little did I know at that point what would unfold.

So, in a whirlwind of just a few days, I had seen my GP, had a mammogram and ultrasound, been referred to the Breast Clinic at Royal Perth Hospital – where I got ‘the news’. What seems bonkers to me now, is that at the time, I was not initially that concerned about the cancer. 

Two weeks later I had the offending cancer mass removed and the freedom that I felt was instant. I was so filled with joy that the ‘thing’ was gone and I could move on with the next stage of treatment.

Sadly, my joy was short-lived. 

The worst news

During a post-op appointment with my surgeon, I recounted to her some weird pain that I had been experiencing periodically for the past few months, as it had dramatically intensified after my surgery. More scans and tests were ordered and confirmed the very worst news.

I am sorry Mrs James, but you have metastatic breast cancer.

I’m sorry but What the …? (Yep, there were some expletives!) 

I cannot adequately explain the myriad of emotions that ran through my heart and mind in that moment. I actually don’t fear dying, as I know that I will return to the arms of my Creator.

But the idea of leaving my husband and daughter… that hurt my heart more than words can express. Our daughter was 4 years old at the time. She is nonverbal and on the autism spectrum and needs her mama. 

I am sure many mums will agree that they understood their own mum on a completely different level after becoming mums themselves. I know this was the case for me. So, the burden that I felt when I called my mum to tell her the news was overwhelming. To hear her tears on the other end of the phone, knowing that I was the cause of her pain and not being able to offer any comfort in that moment to her was a lot to bear.

Gratitude

Fast forward to today. I am incredibly grateful. 

The monthly injections and daily oral medicines that I am taking are working and doing their thing (with only a couple of very manageable side effects). One of these medicines has only been available in Australia for two years and it is truly performing a miracle in my body. TODAY, I have no evidence of active cancer in my body. I am beyond grateful.

Sharing my story

I am very open about what it is like to live with cancer because there is truly so much power when we share our story with other people. We ALL face hurdles and challenges in our lifetime. Our stories are all different, but we can learn so much from one another. 

Life is a short, precious gift

I often get asked if I am angry or bitter and I can honestly say that I am neither. They don’t change my circumstances. They add nothing good to my life and do nothing to serve me. However, I DO have a new appreciation for the temporary nature of life. We are not guaranteed any set amount of days on this earth. We can only be certain of this moment on this day. Life is short, precious and a gift. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Australia. 

Did you know that 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime? 

My request to you

Can I please make a request of each of you? 

If you are 40 years old or over, please make an appointment today to get your breasts checked. It is free for you. BUT if you are under 40, please make sure you know how to do a self-examination and that you are doing them regularly. Know your body because knowledge is power.

Often, we don’t get to choose what life throws our way, but we can choose to look for the good, the joy and the beauty as our story unfolds.

Trudy James

PS – Thank you to our village that love our family so beautifully. We love you.

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