Judo's Story

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"I am a 49 year old mother of 3 (23, 21 and 16) from Ireland. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer (HER2+) on the 17th of September 2010. I underwent surgery to remove a 1.8cm lump from my left breast, along with axillary clearance -- 32 nodes removed of which 8 were cancerous. Had 6 cycles of Carboplatin, Taxotere along with Herceptin (which I was on for a year). I also had 8 weeks of radiation Monday to Friday. Was put on tamoxifen in April 2011 after finishing chemo. When last of the treatments were finished, I genuinely never looked back and got on with living my life. I was busy looking after my family, working and enjoying my golf.

"At the start of 2015, I wasn't feeling too well but cancer was the last thing on my mind. My first symptom was on the 4th or 5th of January 2015. I felt a slight flutter (like an electrical current) over my left breast which I thought strange but it only happened another three or four times so I thought no more about it. Come February, I was feeling tired and I had a slight cough but my neck was acting up in that it felt as if I had a permanent crick which restricted my head movement. I attended my GP on Monday the 16th of February and was referred for a chest X-ray. Two days later I was put on a course of penicillin and then had to wait a week before my next X-ray. I was X-rayed on Monday the 9th of March and the following day my GP contacted me to say that she had arranged for me to see my surgeon that afternoon. My X-ray was considered unusual in that my phrenic nerve on my left side had collapsed and my diaphragm was elevated. My surgeon ordered a CT scan which I had the following morning. I was called back to his room later that day to be told that I had about 20 tumors, each measuring approximately 9mm in both my lungs and that I had a small dot on my iliac bone. I was shocked and, needless to say, shed a lot of tears as did my sister who was with me when the news was delivered. A few days later a bone scan confirmed that I also had two dots on my L3 and L4 spine.

"Thank God that I am an eternally optimistic person as despite the initial shock to the system I thought, 'Come on, I can do this and I will do this.' I remembered an inspirational radio interview given by a Tipperary man called Liam Ryan who was given a 5% survival chance after an aggressive cancer was diagnosed behind his face. He too was distraught with his prognosis until his friend said, 'You have got to be one of those five who will survive this,' and he was!!

"On the 14th of April this year I started treatment: Perjeta, Herceptin and Taxotere. My first scan occurred after 3 cycles of chemo, Perjeta and Herceptin and showed a reduction in my tumors from 9mm to 6mm and my most recent scan on the 29th of September showed that tumors are stable, i.e. treatment is working. On the 3rd of November I am scheduled to have my ovaries out and will automatically go into menopause. I will be put on a hormonal tablet (can't remember the name this minute) to take each day. So, my present situation is that 9 taxotere chemos have been completed, so today I received just Perjeta and Herceptin and will continue to do so every three weeks until my next scan where hopefully things will remain stable and there will be no need for me to be put back on chemo. Stable is Good!!!!

"My motto is kindly borrowed from an elderly friend who sent me the following message: 'First we do what is necessary, then we do what is possible, remembering tomorrow is promised to no one.' Live day by day -- that is the secret because the moment we attempt to visit the future is when our hearts break. One step at a time!!

"The photo is of me & family at my sister's wedding in Italy on Saturday the 26th of Sept 2015."

-- Judo, 8 months metastatic

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