Niki was diagnosed with breast cancer early enough to get the right treatment and avoid mastectomy. With the support of her family, friends and other breast cancer patients, she has never felt alone in her fight against the disease.
Hello, can you please introduce yourself in a few words?
My Name is Niki, I am 45 years old, I am married with two grown up children.
How and when were you diagnosed with breast cancer?
I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer January 13th. I had a virus a few months prior and just didn't feel myself, I thought it was down to the passing of my dad. I found the lump myself in November, at first I thought it was just glands or a cyst. I went to my own Doctor, he said it was nothing to worry about and 99% benign but he would send me for a mammogram. The results after 2nd mammogram showed it to be cancerous. The lump was small enough and early detection meant I would not need a mastectomy.
How did you react to the diagnosis?
I was devastated with the results and heartbroken for my husband, son and daughter, telling my kids I needed chemo was crushing, definitely the hardest part of it all. They were so upset for me but have been so supportive and strong. I feel very positive now and have a whole different perspective on life…
What treatment have you been going through since the diagnosis? Has it been efficient?
My treatment was 8 sessions of chemo which I had over 16 week period, followed by a lumpectomy then 4 weeks of radiotherapy… I was very lucky with my treatment that I didn't suffer nausea and had very little side effects, the lumpectomy was very straight forward as was the radiotherapy…
You said that coping with fear and anxiety is the hardest thing. Who or what helps you cope?
Coping with the anxiety I have felt throughout has been the hardest part of having cancer, the constant appointments then waiting for results. Lying in bed at night thinking the worse but with the constant reassurance from my family and friends and learning to breathe it out it got easier.
Have you ever asked for professional help (a psychologist, etc.)?
I went to see a therapist whom was also a cancer survivor, for a couple of therapy sessions. I found it really helped me and I would highly recommend it.
Do you find it useful for breast cancer patients to join associations and other patient organisations, or is it easier for you to manager your condition on your own?
I found Carenity a huge help, to be able to send messages and ask advice from other people going through cancer too. I never felt I was coping with breast cancer on my own.
What do you think about Pinktober (breast cancer awareness month) and all the events around it?
I think breast cancer awareness is vital for women and men, if its caught early it really makes a huge difference. I am proof of that.
What would you advise other patients with breast cancer?
My advice for people with breast cancer is to talk to people, whether it’s family friends or on a cancer website. Tell them your fears. I think once you talk about it or keep a diary, it makes dealing with cancer a little bit easier.